My apologies for not posting more lately, I started 2 posts which ended up taking too long or weren't going anywhere. Also working on Mike vs the Uncanny X-Men. Not to mention getting pounded by work...but on to normal stuff 11 O'Clock Comics, which is a great comics podcast (at least it was last I checked).
Pluto is a Manga by Naoki Urasawa, based on "The Greatest Robot on Earth" a Story from the Astro Boy manga by Osamu Tezuka. I know that is a complicated sentance, but we'll work through it backwards. Osamu Tezuka is considered the Godfather of Manga and Anime, amongst his creations was Astro Boy in 1952. An early storyarc of Astro Boy was called "The Greatest Robot on Earth". Naoki Urasawa is a more modern Manga creator, who took that story, then adapted and re-interpreted it. Where the original focused on Astro Boy, this new version focuses on a different character and sees the story from his point of view. Framing the story as a dramatic murder mystery.
The basic idea of the story is that in the world this story takes place, robots are common place and they had recently gained civil rights. While there are many robots, there are only 8 Great Robots, the most advanced, the most human like, and the most powerful. Mont Blanc is the great Robot from Switzerland, he was peaceful and beloved by people in his country and others, he is found destroyed and his head placed on a pedistal with horns placed on either side of his head. Soon after a human is killed under similar circumstances, leading people to think that a Robot is responsible, but robots are supposed to be unable to kill humans. They bring in the German robot Detective Gesicht on the case and the story follows him as he trys to uncover the mystery as it appears the killings are connected and will continue. We see some parts of the story from the perspective of each of the 8 great robots, and see some interesting stories about them.
I actually didn't realize that this story had anything to do with Astro Boy when I started reading it, it is not prerequisite knowledge for reading this book. I just thought it was a really good book, and then it had one character who looked familiar.(I actually thought it was like a cameo) But Pluto stands on its own quite well and explains all the characters as if it is the first time you have met them, because this version is wildly different from the story its based on there is no way you would be familiar with these new versions of the characters. This book has fighting robots, murder mystery, political intrigue, and fantastic characters. It deals with issues like discrimination, war, and even what it means to be human in a very adult way. The whole book is very adult and treats its world very realistically. Urasawa's art style is fantastic at getting the emotional beats and letting you know exactly how a character feels just from the look on their face. Urasawa's art style is very different from Tezuka's which is very cartoony.
Pluto is made up of 8 Volumes from Slave Labor Graphics, they read right to left as most Manga do. It is presented in Black and White, with the first few pages of every volume in color. I read the first 6 Volumes a while ago separately, but since it had been a long time I re-read the first 6 and jumped into the last 2 volumes. I'm gald i did, the story is complicated enough that I would have missed out or forgotten huge chunks of story.