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Terra Formars Volume 2 Review: A Step In the Right Direction
I wasn’t exactly on board with Terra Formars back when I reviewed the first volume. Even now I can’t claim that I’m particularly crazy for it. That said, Terra Formars as a series is moving forward in a better direction with the second volume. Many of the issues that plagued the first volume are no longer present, and there is a greater focus on story for this particular volume of Terra Formars.
The second volume takes place some time after the events of the first volume. A new team is being formed in hopes of returning to Mars on a more scientific mission. Unfortunately the survivors of the blood bath that was volume one brought something back with them. A new virus is spreading across Earth, one with no cure. The only hope that humanity has is to go to Mars and try to find something that can cure it. Unfortunately Mars is still occupied by the mutant cockroaches that appear to be offspring of Titans from Attack on Titan, and said mutants brutally slaughter humans for recreation. Unfortunately, the design for the cockroaches still remains laughable and it is difficult to believe that cockroaches would evolve to look like humans.
Even though it clearly didn’t work in the past, U-NASA decides the best option is to send another team of genetically engineered super humans spliced with bug DNA. Apparently this is more efficient than simply sending out an entire fleet of ships to drive the cockroaches to extinction via orbital bombardment. Yet even with a team full of super humans, I have my doubts that this team will fare much better given that the cockroaches are faster and stronger. Not only that but they have the ability to adapt and learn as quick as a Xenomorph. I have my doubts as to how exactly anybody will be able to do much research when there are those kinds of creatures running around in massive numbers.
Of the improvements made, the biggest one would be characters. Not only are the characters more memorable, but for the most part they are likeable. The second volume takes time to develop these characters, so there is a fairly good chance that they will survive further into the story than the joke that was the previous group in volume one. Each character has a much more detailed back story that helps explain their motivations for joining the project.
The art style was one of the few strong points of volume one, and it remains so in the second installation. There is a strong attention to detail that is persistent throughout the volume. This also applies to some of the more violent and gory scenes that are a common re-occurrence in Terra Formars with human and mutant cockroach alike being torn apart. Violence aside, the art helps bring out the setting of Terra Formars far more than the first volume. While it was stated at the start of the story that Earth is in trouble with overpopulation and lack of resources, this is never really shown even through character dialogue. Yet with a few simple flashbacks with characters that actually matter, the reader has a much better understanding of what is going on and just how desperate humanity is getting given the current circumstances.
That said, the continuation of Terra Formars is not without flaws. While the story has shifted away from page after page of violent carnage, it feels like future chapters will inevitably bring it back to something similar to what was seen in volume one. This would be unfortunate, as Terra Formars is a much better series when it wants to tell a decent story rather than throw a bunch of characters that the reader doesn’t care about into a meat grinder.
Volume two ends with the perfect cliff hanger, leaving the reader with a desire to know what happens next. Although I get the feeling that the third volume will be full of gruesome violence and wholesale slaughter given that the current team has one hundred crew members. If Terra Formars can continue with a slower pacing and balance the gratuitous violence with a strong story like volume two did, then the series will finally be able to live up to its potential.