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‘Xira #1-#3’ (review)

Written by Mauro Mantella
Illustrated by Diego Giribaldi
Published by Red 5 Comics


If you love animals and hate how they’re treated in certain circles, Xira brings a sci-fi twist to an engaging story.

Previously, Xira, a laboratory chimpanzee, was subjected to secret neural experiments, rescued her son from the same horrors she endured and escaped her imprisonment.

Xira has heightened intelligence and hid it from the doctors who experimented on her until she gained enough information to execute her plan.

If that’s not cool enough, Xira stole a mech suit that is armed to the teeth. The lab has failed in every attempt to capture Xira and rolled out one last desperate play.

Here, we meet Marko, a laboratory orangutan with a sole appetite for violence.

Oh, he also has a mech suit.

The third installment picked up as Marko and Xira fight it out in all of their armored glory. Xira not only has to stop Marko, but protect her baby in the process. The expressive artwork of Diego Giribaldi vividly conveys situations of emotional gravity. Marko’s vicious roars, coupled with Xira’s fear and concern, express more than any word balloon could communicate.

Fight scenes, page layouts, and an appropriate color pallet augment the excellent character work throughout the book.

The narrative established by Mauro Mantella worked well in tandem with the visual presentation.

It also gave a powerful voice to the voiceless in Xira, who kind of represents all animals who are tired of being poked and prodded to make new medicine or haircare products.

Don’t worry, Mantella doesn’t shove any personal views down the reader’s throat. Instead, he presents various scenarios in the real world of animal testing, such as people on both sides of the argument presenting their case. Some doctors could care less about the animals while other doctors hate the part they play in the testing and use whatever opportunity they have to treat the animals with kindness. Insulting comments from those who mock doctors for giving the animals a loving pat on the head made Xira’s character more sympathetic. It made the reader want her to win even more, which drives the story.

Adult themes and violence are prevalent throughout the series, and this final outing is no exception.

Marko lives up to his fierce reputation and unleashes some Mortal Kombat style violence. It isn’t bloody for the sake of being bloody as it gut-wrenchingly tied into the Xira’s struggle. The ending brings change to the world that’s bittersweet to the reader while bringing a sense of relief for everyone else who is happy for animals everywhere. Mantella left one final treat that at first made me wonder how it happened. Then I realized that I didn’t care. I was just glad it did happen.

The story is wrapped up with such a nice bow that a sequel isn’t warranted. Odds are the creative team are animal lovers due to the care that went into the story all fronts.

Honestly, the only bad thing about Xira is that it had to end.

Rating: A-


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