Review by: Brenda Gregson
Publisher: VIZ Media
Author: Hiromu Arakawa
Genre: Graphic Novel
MSRP: $9.99 US
Rating: T (Teen)
Release Date: Now available
Do not mess with Major General Armstrong.
There’s a lot to love about the Fullmetal Alchemist manga seeing as it dives deeper into the rich story that made the anime such a beloved hit among its loyal fans. The manga has even expanded on the anime series’ most interesting scenes to the point that we have a deeper understanding of events such as the Ishbalan conflict. Oh yeah, there’s a lot to love about the Fullmetal Alchemist manga.
In Volume 17, we find Edward and Alphonse taken under custody after having reach Fort Briggs that is under the command of one Major General Olivier Armstrong (who also happens to be older sister to Central Command’s Alexander Armstrong). Untrusting of the brothers’ intention or reasons for being in the icy region, the tough-as-nails Armstrong is sending her men to locate the Ishbalan known as Scar only to find a very injured Kimblee (aka the Red Lotus Alchemist) who fought with Scar.
While the Elric brothers are in the middle of an interrogation, a huge hulking beast crashes into the fort. Ed and Al quickly identify it as a Homunculus and thus adding more suspicion to their claim of them being in the region to seek out Scar and his pint-sized companion named May Chang. Unable to kill it, Major General Armstrong comes up with a plan to disable it. With the aid of the brothers and 2nd Lieutenant Falman from Central, Armstrong comes up with a plan that is carried out successfully.
With the Homunculus out of the way, Ed is forced to reveal a few things about their mission but not what a Homunculus is but it’s clear to Armstrong that the brothers can be trusted and that they have turned to her hoping she would sympathize with their mission. She drops her guard enough that she does turn to Ed and Al for help in discovering the secrets of the tunnel right under the fort. When a scouting party disappears, the people in Fort Briggs suspects something nasty is lurking deep inside.
Ed also makes an interesting discovery about the land that is tied to a number of violent events throughout the various territories and in different timelines. It’s a discovery that May also happens to know as she explains it to a scarred Doctor Marcoh. Meanwhile, the man Ed and Al know as father is making a discovery of his own. In one chapter, we get a glance at what his life was with his wife Trisha and both Ed and Al when they were younger. In an endearing moment, Trisha tells her husband that she wants him in her life no matter what. We also get to witness the day he leaves them, which, in the anime, is a day Ed never forgets or forgives.
Back in Forth Briggs, Lieutenant General Raven shows up with Kimblee. How is it that Kimblee – only a day ago – was in critical condition and now stepping into the fort looking like nothing happened? Ed has a good idea that requires Armstrong to sweet talk him in order to find out why he’s here and what he knows about the Homunculus. We knew Armstrong is a tough woman but when Raven crosses the line we find out that there’s just some people you do not want to mess around with the way Raven did.
Before Raven does cross the line, however, he does reveal something about the Homunculus and even calls it by its name. When news that Raven “disappears,” Kimblee assumes command with Presidential orders that even Armstrong cannot override. What plans he has and why he has somebody dear to Ed and Al with him can only be answered in the next volume.
Fullmetal Alchemist, Volume 17, is yet another great volume in a truly great series that is the perfect companion piece to the anime. This volume in particular is one of the more exciting volumes that continues to flesh out a much bigger picture. If you’re not already a fan of the manga or the series, do yourself a favor and pick up this volume.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
The Elric brothers are still prisoners in Fort Briggs but Major General Olivier Armstrong is finally believing their story when a Homunculus shows up. On top of that, Kimblee makes a speedy recovery after his encounter with Scar only to surprise Ed and Al with a prisoner of his own.
The art is still downright eye-catching and even more so in this volume that is easy on the eyes.
A lot is revealed in Volume 17 of Fullmetal Alchemist and this is one of the most interesting volumes of this great series. Whether it’s a peek into the moment the brothers’ father made his exit or Major General Armstrong’s defiance of high command, this one is certainly not short on surprises.