Toxic masculinity and unlikeable or empty characters fill the pages of this mini-series that remains upright only through the beautiful worldbuilding being done on the artistic side. Racial stereotypes and gore seemingly for the sake of gore also drag down a story that should have been quite compelling in concept.
Often what compels the audience to continue to follow any piece of media is characters that they can connect with in some fashion. Generally, that connection needs to be at least positive in some way whether it’s a heroic character that the audience roots for or a villain type that falls into either the sympathetic realm or the love-to-hate them realm. When that is missing, it’s quite hard to really form a connection to any type of story.
This lack of connection is strong when it comes to Mann’s World as even here in the third issue there still isn’t anything resembling a reason to truly care about any character that appears within the story. The protagonists fall deep into various realms of toxic masculinity and are often very unlikeable and even the natives that should be sympathetic are either mostly background to the overall story or are just as toxic and negative as the protagonists.
It feels like Victor Gischler is trying to say something overall with this story, but what that message might be remains elusive and very jumbled behind a lot of machismo and some thrown-in gory scenes.
Most of the art is still the selling point of the book as Niko Walter, Snakebite Cortez and Andworld Design present a well-detailed and beautiful alien world. While the sudden introduction of more gore into the series is somewhat groan-inducing from a story point, the team at least makes it visually meaningful and is more tastefully done than a lot of gory stories. One major quibble with the art that seemed to be a huge problem in this issue surrounds the overly toxic character of Duncan Sharpe, who is definitely the true villain of this story.
That brings up another thing that isn’t sitting right. Duncan being this big toxic male Black fighter that picks fights with locals and is a heavily implied killer after this issue dances right on the line of harmful stereotypes of angry violent Black men. This type of image has never been okay, always harmful, but it’s especially more ill-fitting after everything that has happened in the last year and the increasing movement against the constant violence against Black people by the authorities. Duncan is the most toxic out of all the men in this book and it’s beyond disappointing to still see this outdated sort of take within stories today.
In many of the first pages, Duncan is very clearly shirtless with abs and nipples and slight hair is seen upon his light brown skin. As the panels move on though there begins to be this discrepancy where he fluctuates between being shirtless and then suddenly wearing a super tight, brown, but just slightly lighter than his skin, colored shirt. One can tell it is a shirt because not only are the details of his chest gone, it’s the same shirt that he had on in previous issues where one can see a clear mark where the sleeve ends and skin begins by his wrists.
It is not a huge mistake, but it’s one that becomes increasingly noticeable as the story moves on. Having the character wear a shirt that is barely different than the shade of his skin color was not a good choice.
There is only one issue left of this book and while it is nice to look at, there still isn’t seemingly a compelling reason to care about the characters or story overall and that’s not likely to change in the conclusion.
Mann’s World #3 is now on sale from AWA Studios in print and digitally.