Alien Roaches and Animal Soldiers: Should You Be Reading ‘Terra Formars’?
When you look at the sheer range and number of original stories being told in comics form today, it’s hard to imagine a better time to be a comics reader. Online and in print, from all around the world, artists and writers are telling stories with their own voices and styles, and there’s so much to choose from that it’s sometimes difficult to know what to read next. With Should I Be Reading… ?, ComicsAlliance hopes to offer you a guide to some of the best original ongoing comics being published today.
Terra Formars is a manga series written by Yu Sasuga and drawn by Kenichi Tachibana that began serialization in 2011. In the series, an attempt to colonize Mars has led to a race of hostile, humanoid cockroach aliens, and only the astronauts who have gone through a dangerous body modification can fight them off.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
500 years ago, 21st century scientists sent algae and cockroaches to Mars in order to terraform it, and somehow, the cockroaches mutated into a humanoid, intelligent form in the intervening time. In the present day, after the first shuttle was completely obliterated by the mutated roaches, an international second crew has been sent up after undergoing the “Bugs Procedure”, a genetic modification that gives each crew member a different organism’s ability.
WHO'S IT BY?
A collaboration between Yu Sasuga and Kenichi Tachibana; Terra Formars is Sasuga’s debut work, while Tachibana has been creating manga since 2003, though none of his previous works have officially been translated into English) .
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
Tachibana’s art is heavily detailed and can carry both the action of the story and the various real and mutated alien animals that Sasuga’s scripts require. Most importantly, there’s a bear fight, and all right-thinking people enjoy fighting bears (in fiction).
The manga leans heavily into the idea of a future society that still holds many of our modern-day problems, with class, nationalism, and self-interest interrupting any attempt to promote a unified front against the cockroaches.
It’s also a manga fascinated by the idea of duty; duty to the human race, duty to the country one was born into, and duty to one’s own nature and core beliefs. All of the characters have their own priorities, and though they need to work together against the bugs, very few of them are selfless people.
The subject matter also provides an excuse for Tachibana to draw giant cockroach people attacking insect-hybrid astronauts on Mars while giant ships and futuristic guns and swords cover the background. This is, after all, a comic where humanity’s best solution to the problem of a race of super-intelligent, super strong cockroach aliens is to send insect people of their own to Mars armed with swords and martial arts.
WHO SHOULD READ IT?
There are plenty of similarities to Gantz, from the hyper-detailed art and alien fights to the twisted and argumentative characters, along with enough casualties to make Game of Thrones readers nervous. The comic should appeal to anyone who’s been dying for someone to combine Animorphs (who remembers the 90s?) and Power Rangers with a war movie set on Mars.
WHERE CAN I READ IT?