Taiyo Matsumoto's NO. 5 (volume 1) is a work of savant genius. Big words, I know, and a heavy accolade to just throw out there, but it's true. NO. 5 is a singular work of unerring vision and comics energy. It's wired to the gills with the excitement borne of pure ideas and vigor so sincere and singular as to defy definition.
This setup volume gives us the titular No. 5, he of nine-member world-protecting super-powered Rainbow Council shunning his duties, kidnapping a weird babushka woman of some sort and fleeing with her across the desert. The Council decides to stop him, sending out its own one at a time to capture or kill him. Or maybe not. Maybe there are plans within plans. Maybe that guy in the bunny suit knows what's going on.
Yeah: bunny suit. Matsumoto packs so much weird shit onto the page that I read NO. 5 three times in one go, trying to catch it all while letting myself drown in that weird Hugo Pratt meets Peter Max style of his, grooving on the very Japanese pop-newness that permeates NO. 5 like strange perfume. Perhaps one of the few truly international cartoonists working in comics today, Matsumoto reminds me very much of someone like Paul Pope in his multi-cultural style and sheer balls-to-the-wall confidence in his ideas. NO. 5 is hysterically surreal, bizarrely intriguing, and compulsively consumable.
The problem is that NO. 5 is merely the first volume in what I'd guess will be a five volume series (for poetry's sake if nothing else). Plenty of time to blow it, I suppose - but I don't think Matsumoto could if he tried. If this volume is any indication, I can assure you that NO. 5 will never be boring and will never feel like anything you've encountered before.
Matt Fraction splits his time between motion graphics and design house MK12, writing comics, and reading comics. He is the author of the graphic novels The Annotated Mantooth and Last of the Independents, both available from AiT/Planet Lar. He can be found on the web at mattfraction.com. His wife is hot.