4 out of 5
As we’re now on the other side of the flashback format that undercut the first two volumes, as well as more comfortably motivated by an actual goal – save the universe – as opposed to the emotional shortsightedness of the previous book, Book 3 of The Metabaron series finally starts to feel like a proper Jodo epic, with Jerry Frissen once again slickly emulating Alejandro’s brusque, declarative narrative voice, and new artist (to this series) Valentin Secher delivering the most lively imagery yet.
…Though, of course, a ‘proper Jodo epic’ also tends to mean disposable women characters, and here again we can an entire race of guardian women – the Meta-Guardianesses – reduced to instantly falling in love with our good ol’ Metabaron, and / or becoming bullet fodder. These are the two weakest parts of the story: the lead Meta-Guardianess is, for most intents and purposes, a “strong” female character, making decisions and demanding (through action) the respect of those around her, but then a panel later she has lovey-dovey eyes, and gives in quite easily to a pretty cut-and-dry dumb plane by the Metabaron.
Orne-8, back from volume 2, doesn’t fare much better.
Paralleling that, though, is our men – Simak, MB – who are mostly one-dimensionally driven by typical power and sex pursuits. I’m getting distracted, though: this simplification is part of how Jodo sets up his characters, and Book 3 is much more tolerable in that it feels more effectively like chess pieces than characters about whom we’re supposed to actually care. (This is a good thing, in the Jodoverse, where connection to anything is questionable.) And Metabaron’s conversion from escapee from his dying universe to, once more, a man-of-action, setting himself against the corruptive Simak, is pretty rah-rah cheer-worthy, Frissen keeping the story moving at a quick and clean clip such that we’re really wondering what calamity can come next, and how it can actually be overcome.