By Juan Gimenez
As of 2010, Humanoids publishing has set up shop in California to publish translations of their more recent sci fi graphic novels. Leo Roa is one of the slightly over-sized graphic novels released by the publisher in March 2014, available for digital purchase from Humaniods.com. Leo Roa is written and illustrated by Argentinian artist Juan Gimenez. Gimenez is also one of the creators of Humanoids popular Metabarons series that originally ran from 1992 to 2003.
This slightly oversized edition contains the digital release of Leo Roa volume 1 and 2 . Both volumes tell of separate adventures collected in this beautifully illustrated graphic novel. Leo is an archivist at Starr News with pretty big aspirations. He dreams of becoming not only a galaxy renowned reporter but a hero as well. Mister Roa gets his wish in two distinct and different adventures. The first volume titled The True Tale of Leo Roa is a corporate espionage adventure and the second An Odyssey Back in Time is a comical tale of time travel and political hijinks.
Some nefarious individuals want some information from the archives at Starr and Leo has one half of the code to the files. Trying to solve the mystery armed with an archive code and a lot of luck, Leo tries to solve the case by myself to earn the label he’s dreamed of having, an adventuring investigative reporter. True Tale is a fun adventure that has Leo and his cousin Meke haphazardly uncovering clues to unravel the mystery of identity of the crooks who will stop at nothing to get their hand’s on Leo’s access to Starr’s archives.
The second adventure involves a time travel device that holds a remarkable medical advantage and Meke returns as a possible savior to an alien race desperately in need of help. The Leo and Meke separate into two separate plots that eventually come together. They both find themselves relying on luck to get them out of some tricky situations. Meke is caught the middle of a political clash and finds himself falling in love. Leo accidentally takes a trip through time escaping by sheer and comical luck. The overall narrative framing in the second story, Odyssey, can be a bit confusing. The story jumps around from Leo’s time travel adventure to his cousin’s political adventure which can be jarring. At the conclusion of Odyssey both story threads come together. There is a unique property of time travel that is revealed as well.
Both stories have a distinctive overall plot. Each tale has a uniqueness that makes them interesting. Gimenez has some imaginative spins on time travel and secret identities. Each story has a hook however the there’s not much of an overall plot but rather two very simple plots. It’s an easy read but not very exciting. Both stories have a laid back pace, which accounts for the easy read and lack of excitement at times. The main characters seem to lack some emotion in dialogue and expression that might have made them more relatable and memorable. Leo and Meke are simple but likable.
The art is reminiscent of the art found in Heavy Metal magazine during the time of the magazine’s highest popularity. Fans of Heavy Metal will appreciate the art style. Another similarity to Heavy Metal is the adult rating which is warranted due to a couple of sexual situations and adult themes through the collected edition. The art does give the story a nice sci-fi feel and tone. Gimenez gives each panel plenty of detail in tune with most European comics. The pencils and shading are soft creating dimension to the art. The characters all have distinguishing features making it easier to differentiate who is who.
Leo Roa is a light-hearted adventure book. Fans of Heavy Metal more comedic offerings will enjoy Juan Gimenez sci-fi romp.