In an alchemical ritual gone wrong, Edward Elric lost his arm and his leg, and his brother Alphonse became nothing but a soul in a suit of armor. Equipped with mechanical “auto-mail” limbs, Edward becomes a state alchemist, seeking the one thing that can restore his and his brother’s bodies… the legendary Philosopher’s Stone.

Auto-mail engineer Winry is captured and held hostage to force Edward to do her captor’s bidding. Hawkeye discovers the disturbing truth about President Bradley’s son. Our heroes have fortuitous and not-so-fortuitous reunions with old friends and enemies. And multiple intrigues and double-crosses ensue as some people plot to save the world while others scheme to destroy it.

Volume 18 has Ed and Al still up in the North, though now they are being manipulated by Kimblee, who has Winry in his treacherous grasp and seeks the aid of the Elric brothers in creating another Philosopher’s Stone. However, Scar and his companions are also in the area, a big target for both the military and the Elric brothers, though Kimblee would do well to watch out just where the loyalties of the Northern forces really lie. In the same breath, back in Central, Lieutenant Hawkeye makes a rather startling – and disturbing discovery, something revolving around yet another homunculus which makes he’s rather unexpected appearance.

There is plenty of darkness in volume 18 as we’ve come to expect whenever a homunculus is involved, though this is balanced out by plenty of action sequences, and of course by yet more intrigue as writer Hiromu Arakawa carefully lifts the lids off of some secrets, only to tantalize with a few new ones in return! Some nice little twists are thrown in and overall, Volume 18 grabs you and sucks you in well before you even realize it.

As we’ve become accustomed to it by now, Arakawa’s flat cartoony style still doesn’t quite match up with the dark tones at times, but for the most part the clean lines and good backgrounds do make for pleasant visuals, with her style capturing her trademark slapstick humor and silliness that she likes throwing in every now and then perfectly!

It’s a decent read that certainly won’t disappoint fans of the series that have already come this far into it.

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