Review of Team Phoenix Volume 2: The Quest for Astro
Team Phoenix is the ambitious series launched by Kenny Ruiz. The main author of the new generation of Spirou newspaper, he recently launched into manga. Pre-published in monumental passages Tezukomihis project Team Phoenix became a planned story in 6 volumes edited by Dupuis. It brings together in a cross-over all the characters invented by Tezuka immersed in a dantesque space opera. Excited by the first volume, our editorial team devoured the sequel with equal enthusiasm.
Blackjack to the rescue
Humanity has lost. The great war that pitted living species against robots sounded the death knell for biological organisms. Across the galaxy, the Robotic Union imposes its dictatorial government under the orders of Atlas. A real divide divides robotics from biologicals. Only useful people are retained. Faced with this tyranny, a resistance tries to organize itself grouped around Princess Sapphire and fails the new regime.
But the forces of the incomparable Atlas hunt down any dissent. The team formed by Saphir, “Team Phoenix” has all the problems in the world to escape the hands of enemy agents. And when they meet Fire, a surprising girl whose powers seem to heal the world, the rebels have to flee an emergency before being rescued by cyber-surgeon Black Jack. With this new ally, they embark on a dangerous operation: to free the mysterious patient Alpha.
Team Phoenix : Blackjack in Captain Harlock mode
This new opus introduces an iconic character from Tezuka’s work. In the manga father’s work, Black Jack is a shadowy doctor with a scar on part of his face. Due to a childhood accident, he received a gift of skin and from that day he chose to repay this debt by becoming a doctor. But in reality, he decided to offer his services to the marginalized of society, criminals as forgotten. Being a reference, as talented as he is a misanthrope, he leads a solitary life plagued by his own weaknesses in the face of inevitable death.
In Kenny Ruiz’s story, Doctor Black Jack retains some of the original character traits. The man remains somewhat cynical, mysteriously endowed with a solid sense of repartee “I didn’t call you to deliver flowers”. She always remains on the border between shadow and light, flirting with the rebels but working with the robotic empire. But he also becomes a space corsair whose appearance and mentality bring him closer to Harlock, Captain Harlock. Like Leiji Matsumoto’s character, he leads his own fight while remaining upright, determined and respected.
A space robbery
Always eager to put on a captivating story, Kenny Ruiz breaks the first volume by offering us here not a frantic chase but a heist story. And what an operation!!! Black Jack and Team Phoenix must enter the Hermetic Zone, the Robotic Union’s most fortified building in space. This labyrinthine prison is home to a strange Alpha patient who conducts tests on Black Jack on behalf of the Robotic Union. However, the doctor-privateer has long had a project to free/abduct the patient.
The story will then unfold a captivating infiltration where each member of Team Phoenix has a role to play. We are not far, in spirit, from Ocean’s Eleven whether in the organization of the shot or in the narration. Timelines are interconnected, mixing current action and future planning. The whole remains very coherent, based on impressive visuals that emphasize the dizzying verticality of the fortress. It becomes very difficult to stop re-reading it in the face of the enormous challenges that await our heroes.
Team Phoenix : Astro’s secrets
Along with this rescue operation, this volume 2 distills revelations about this universe. First about Atlas, the commissioner of the Robotic Union and Uran his advisor. Their motivation, their journey seems clearer to us. Like Tezuka’s works, everything is in shades of gray. Then Kenny Ruiz continues to include the main characters from the world of Astro. In addition to the Gesicht robot seen in the first volume, there is Pluto, the horrible creature raised by Urasawa.
Finally, there is the character of Astro. How did the world’s strongest robot die, whose picture still adorns the walls of the Union Robotique? What does this mysterious hermetic zone contain? Is it a good idea to go and wake up the sleeper there? Feeding the imagination of manyAkira (patient alpha/patient 28) than comics (hermetic zone/phantom zone, Kenny Ruiz slowly drifts his story towards cosmic immensity.
In this second volume, Kenny Ruiz revised the essay. Team Phoenix continues to tell us a galactic epic augmented by tributes and delicately integrated references. A real pleasure to read.