Manga Review: Silvertongue 30xx – Volume 1

First impressions are everything, but sometimes you never really know what you’re going to get based on surface appearances alone. When the indie manga of Volume 1’s Silvertongue 30xx landed in my inbox for review, the bright yellow cover and the image of a tall, dark haired man dressed in a smart suit, standing in a side profile pose with only a sliver of a cocky and smug smirk on his face was enough to pique my curiosity to get a better understanding of this mysterious character.

silvertongue30xx1_coverSilvertongue 30xx’s main character is Silvertongue Hernandez, a lawyer who is itching for a case to win in the courtroom but not having a lot of luck. Hernandez gets his chance when a high profile case between the Chippewa Tribe and a greedy businessman J.W. Hacksworth are duking it out over Hacksworth’s invention known as the Bulldozers, which is endangering the lives of the Chippewa people due to the machine’s toxic fumes and oils. The Chippewa’s chief is out for blood through Hacksworth’s conviction and the death penalty, while Hacksworth, like any corrupt businessman, is pleading not guilty to the charges against him. Hernandez and his right hand man, Kidd Indio, are pushing to prove Hacksworth’s guilt. As the volume of the manga progresses, the court case and Hernandez’s motives as a lawyer aren’t as simple or cut and dry as it appears to be.

The first volume is packed with plenty of colorful and over the top characters. The courtroom proceedings are also filled with high drama and plenty of antics that’s more spectacle than serious most of the time. Hernandez reminded me of Phoenix Wright from the Ace Attorney video games, but much less likable and not as charming. Hernandez is self-absorbed, inconsiderate, and a bit disrespectful. What Hernandez and Phoenix Wright do share in common is their struggle as underdog lawyers, who are trying to prove they’re worthy of their attorney badge and somehow turning an impossible situation to work in their favor before the verdict has been reached.

I won’t spoil what goes on in this volume of the manga, but there’s a twist towards the end which has left me a bit confused as to who or what Silvertongue Hernandez is and what his motivations are. Is he a hero or villain? A little bit of both? It’s difficult to get a definitive read on who Hernandez is as a person, but as a first volume meant to set up the key players for this series, I think that’s the point. Give the readers a little taste in the hopes they’ll want to stick around to find out more about Silvertongue Hernandez.

The story is written by Nando Sarmiento with the artwork drawn by Chris Mullins. The artwork itself has all the styling and trappings of a Japanese shonen manga. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think the artwork was drawn by a Japanese artist. The art itself reminds me of another manga called Lupin III. While I never personally read Lupin myself, it was one of those old, classic mangas I constantly saw being referenced or mentioned in manga circles many times before. I’m not sure if this is one of the artist’s or the author’s inspirations behind the look of the characters and world of Silvertongue 30xx, but I thoroughly enjoyed the fantastically drawn images of the volume.

silvertongue30xx_promoimage

Sarmiento does a decent job at setting up the situations and characters of his story. There’s enough comedic moments to keep the manga light without it getting too dark or serious, like Hernandez’s strange obsession with coffee. It’s towards the end of the volume I find myself scratching my head. There’s no sense of who exactly Silvertongue Hernandez is. The only thing I took away from the volume is Hernandez being no ordinary lawyer and we aren’t dealing with ordinary people either. Maybe this is done intentionally to add a sense of mystery to a character who the reader is still trying to figure out. Maybe more of his backstory will be revealed in the next volume. I think stronger characterization in the first volume would have helped in getting the reader to understand Silvertongue Hernandez a little more clearly. I had a difficult time connecting with the character because he’s just unlikable from the very beginning. As the underdog attorney, I can barely root for Hernandez to take down the defense attorney representing Hacksworth. There has to be some redeeming quality, however small, in Hernandez to get me to actually care about his journey and I simply didn’t. Then again, Tony Stark starts off as an unlikeable guy in the beginning of Iron Man until more of his personality and driving actions are revealed to make people’s opinions of him change and view him differently. There’s hope for Silvertongue Hernandez to turn it all around.

Silvertongue 30xx is an indie manga with great artwork and a story that has the potential to be a different kind of action, adventure read with humor and over the top courtroom drama in the style of Phoenix Wright in manga form. The only thing missing in the first volume are stronger characterizations that allows the reader to get a better idea of where the main protagonist is coming from and a hook to even care about Silvertongue Hernandez’s personal goals. If the succeeding volumes digs deeper into the heart and soul of Hernandez, it’ll become a series worth following until the very end.

Reviewer Rating: 8.0/10

Silvertongue 30xx, Volume 1 is available now on ComiXology for $1.99.

Visit his website at: Little Nando

Follow him on Twitter at: @NandoSarmiento

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