“A comic about monkeys, jaguars, cyborgs and a mystery” and “A comic about robots, memories, warfare and sex” (according to the blurbs), Mano and Puno are parts one and two of the three part Peruvian cyberpunk adventure (now that’s three words I don’t get to type often) Altiplano (trans: High Plain).
Creator Gustaffo Vargas is a Preuvian himself, based in Scotland, and is one of the contributors to Skrawl magazine, reviewed on this site (go take a look). He does everything himself here, and upon first glance it certainly seems he’s done a good job visually, but can the story match the presentation?
The story here isn’t always the easiest to follow, concerning a controlling government, cybernetic implants and an organism that can merge with a person and give them mad software modifying powers, very useful in a world where implants are common. The central characters are pretty well realised, as what starts as love story expands into something more disturbing and violent. This is definitely not one for kids, although the adult content is not gratuitous. It genuinely took until page 28 of the second part for me to finally get a handle on the plot, and that was due to a nice exposition dump – up until then I definitely found my mind wandering as I read. Taking it all in now, though, I can appreciate the whole (of two thirds, which is what we have here).
Gustaffo Vargas illustrates with a very bold style, and his colours are nicely vibrant which makes the strip feel like something you might find in Heavy Metal. Sometimes the art feels a little scratchy but it has it’s own style, is easy to follow and does the job well with a shed load of energy bursting through when needed. Each issue is around 40 pages, so the final count should be similar to a modern graphic collection, just a three part story instead of five or six.
The Altiplano series is so far quite engaging, and I genuinely want to know what happens in part three, meaning that these two have done their job successfully. It’s original and adult, and with a price of £6.00 per issue isn’t too bad for a full colour A5 production. Recommended.