Black Magic is considered the first major work by the famous
Manga author Masamune Shirow (Ghost
in the Shell, Orion). Published
in 1983 by Manga Research Group Atlas, this series shows first
hints of ideas and concepts that Shirow would later develop
in his other series. Black Magic is about the Venusian society
who create artificial life and Bioroids (artificial humanoids)
to govern them and make their life easier. When a conspiracy
by the Bioroids to commit genocide on the humans is revealed,
Duna Typhon and her allies work to reveal the conspiracy and
put an end to it.
One of the most interesting ideas about Black Magic is that
it doesn't exist in Earth's far future, but well in it's past.
Small shifts in the story explain how Venus was populated
and looked to colonize Earth, but the destruction of a scientific
project caused the demise of the dinosaur life there and made
the planet uninhabitable. Black Magic, while still early in
Shirow's career shows his strong ability to introduce deeply
conceived scientific and moral issues into the plot and history
of his stories.
Artistically, this volume is not as well detailed and consistent
as his later works, but considering it's age, that's forgivable.
A lot of items and scenes in the story are instantly recognizable
to those who have read Appleseed and Ghost in the Shell. Black
Magic is still more detailed and well-fleshed out that some
current works by other artists.
The story is told in segments that often don't seem to fit
together, but in the end seem to be connected by the underlying
conflict between Typhon and the conspiracy. Because of this,
most of the story seems very disjointed. While each piece
is well-told unto it's own, I think the whole suffers just
slightly from this.
If you enjoy Masamune Shirow or well-thought-out manga, this
is a good volume to get. It's broken-up story telling might
not fit well for those who enjoy a straightforward tale with
a grand finish.