When the Galactic Federation mining colony K-2L is attacked by Ridley and his Space Pirates, the only survivor is a 3-year-old girl named Samus Aran. Rescued by two members of the declining Chozo race, Samus is raised as one of their own. Infusing her with Chozo DNA to survive the harsh conditions of their home planet Zebes, and equipping her with an advanced suit of Powered Armor, the Chozo raise Samus as a warrior who will follow in their duty as protectors of the galaxy. Then a Space Pirate mothership appears in orbit above Zebes, and everything goes to hell...
Titled simply Metroid, this Monthly Magazine Z manga from writer Kouji Tazawa and artist Kenji Ishikawa is the official Back Story of Samus Aran and the Metroid video game series. Produced alongside the games Metroid Fusion and Metroid: Zero Mission, it draws heavily on concepts introduced by the former and is referenced via Ishikawa-drawn Flash Back images in the latter; both games also include an unlockable art gallery with scenes from the manga. Metroid: Other M would include heavy ties to some events of the manga while Retconning others (most notably the nature of Samus's relationship with Adam Malkovich), though much of the manga was already retconned upon the release of "Zero Mission" itself.
The series would later be collected in two volumes, published in 2003 and 2004, and the first two chapters were also converted into an online "e-manga" with colour, simple animation and sound effects. The Metroid Database has English translations of both volumes, as well as the pages from the e-manga.
For the other Metroid manga which ran in the kids-oriented Bom Bom Comics around the same time, see Metroid: Samus and Joey. For the 1993 Super Metroid adaptation illustrated by Benimaru Itoh (which loosely inspired some elements of this manga), see Super Metroid Comics.
This manga provides examples of:
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Fearing that they would die before they managed to bring peace to the galaxy, the Chozo tried to speed up the process by creating Mother Brain, a computer with the sum total of their knowledge. Unfortunately, as they continued to age and become more reliant on Mother Brain, she developed a god complex - deciding that the Chozo had become a mere shadow of their former selves, Mother Brain attempted to become the Space Pirates' Hive Queen in order to take over the galaxy herself.
- Adaptation Origin Connection: This is the first piece of Metroid media to establish that Ridley was part of the Space Pirate attack that killed Samus's parents. It also was the first to show that Mother Brain was a Chozo artificial intelligence, who Samus had known when she was growing up on Zebes.
- Bait the Dog: Ridley does seem to be moved by Samus offering him friendship in spite of his monstrous appearance. Unfortunately for Samus, Ridley is monstrous to the core and he attempts to incinerate her for fun.
- Big Bad: Mother Brain is ultimately the main antagonist of the manga, manipulating events behind the scenes to build up power for herself and replace her Chozo creators with her armies and bioweapons for galactic conquest. And just to hammer in her status, it's revealed that she now commands the Space Pirates, including their leaders like Ridley.
- Bio-Augmentation: Samus is infused with Chozo DNA to allow her to survive on Zebes. Later, Mother Brain repeats this process on Space Pirates.
- Break Out the Museum Piece: When Gray Voice betrays Mother Brain he does so using ancient armor and weapons, knowing that she has no data on them.
- Broad Strokes: While some details contradict the games, other elements such as Samus being raised on Zebes by the Chozo from a young age (Zero Mission), having a deep admiration for the commanding officer she had during her short stint in the military (Fusion), and her birth parents being killed by the Space Pirates (Prime games) — Ridley in particular (Other M) — would be confirmed as canon in later series entries. That last one even had child Samus wear similar clothing as she did in this manga◊.
- Broken Bird: Samus gets through her traumatic experiences by clinging to her sense of duty, deciding that she is not a human but "a warrior" who focuses exclusively on the mission. However, her ability to maintain this persona is not perfect. In her narration at the start of the manga, Samus admits that she sometimes wishes she could give it all up and live a normal life, but cannot allow herself to.
- Canon Immigrant: Old Bird, Chairman Keaton and Chief Hardy originated in the Nintendo Power Super Metroid comic.
- Cooldown Hug: When Samus is having a Freak Out and at the lowest point in her life, a group of Chozo gather around to hug her, telling Samus that she has more than earned the right to cry, and that they're her family who have always been proud of her. The name of the chapter in which this happens? "Phoenix".
- Cowboy Cop: In her time with the Galactic Federation police, Samus was quick to defy orders and charge into hostile terrain guns blazing. Gray Voice later exploits this reputation in order to trick Mother Brain into ignoring Samus's friends coming to help, blaming their attacks on bombs planted by Samus as she came in.
- Disc-One Final Boss: Initially, Ridley is the leader of the Space Pirates going around terrorizing planets and trying to take over the galaxy. Halfway through, he is Demoted to Dragon to Mother Brain, the rogue Chozo intelligence who has decided to become ruler of the universe herself.
- Et Tu, Brute?: Samus is deeply shaken when Mother Brain makes it look like the Chozo only raised her so that they could turn her into a bioweapon for destroying their enemies, which leaves her emotionally vulnerable enough that further trauma is able to send her into a Heroic BSoD.
- Evil-Detecting Dog: Samus only notices the Mimic trying to assassinate Chairman Keaton due to Pyonchi's strange reaction.
- Fake Defector: Gray Voice pretends to betray the Chozo and become one of Mother Brain's new Space Pirate commanders, as part of an attempt to destroy her.
- Fantastic Racism: A captured Space Pirate claims that the Federation aren't so different, pointing out that only a small number of species hold power, and that two of Samus's teammates in the police force are still widely discriminated against.
- Feeling Oppressed by Their Existence: Ridley's hatred of Samus is utterly petty. It's not because she would be the bane of his existence for years to come, but rather for being the sole survivor of the K2-L colony massacre he personally led. During his first battle with Samus, he proclaims that she is like a bad dream that must be erased from existence.
- Food Chain of Evil: The Metroids were created by the Chozo to prey on the X Parasites of SR-388. While Metroids are incredibly deadly life-draining monsters, the X Parasites are something even worse.
- For the Evulz: The Space Pirates are often shown committing horrific acts and all manner of atrocities for pure sadistic fun. Best displayed in chapter 3: "First Battle," where a group of them is about to execute Damara purely because she's too short for them to put to work. When the other slaves object, pleading for them not to do so, the Pirates freely admit that it's not really about whether or not they can use Damara; on such a distant planet, killing slaves is their only source of amusement. Ridley is the worst of them all; during the K2-L raid, he gleefully gives his soldiers free reign to destroy whoever and whatever they want.Ridley: Kill as much as you want! Have fun!
- The Good Chancellor: The Chozo collectively perform this role for the Galactic Federation's leaders, to the point where Samus refers to Zebes as "the true heart of the Federation". Chairman Keaton is seen turning to Old Bird for advice, and Mauk claims that Platinum Chest was responsible for his species being accepted into the Federation.
- Happily Adopted: While she never forgets her birth parents, Samus considers the Chozo to be just as much her family, coming to see Old Bird as a Doting Grandparent and eventually even Gray Voice as a stern but caring father.
- Hate Sink: Ridley, the Arch-Enemy of Samus Aran, is at his most despicable in this Origin Story. Instead of feeling remorse, Ridley relishes the fact he massacred the K-2L colony and killed Samus's mother, using these memories to mentally break Samus on their second encounter. Later on, he murders her adopted family, the Chozo, on Zebes at Mother Brain's command; all while beating up and mocking Samus for being a weak human. It becomes satisfying to see Samus kick Ridley's ass by the end of the manga, as well as the many encounters they'll have for the rest of the series.
- Heartwarming Orphan: Samus was an extremely Cheerful Child before the loss of her family, and while she may have become more aloof with age, it's made clear that she never lost the kindness which lead the Chozo to place their faith in her.
- He Who Fights Monsters: In chapter 3: "First Battle", Samus comes dangerously close to crossing this line when she nearly guns down an already defeated Space Pirate commander who was begging for mercy; only hearing the crying of Damara, the little girl she just saved from them, stops her from doing so. When the crisis is over, Samus thanks Damara for saving her, reflecting that if she had gone through with it, she would have been no better than the Pirates.
- Heroic BSoD: Chapter 8: "Scar". Samus is already in the middle of a Freak Out due to the events of the last chapter (where she suffered massive personal betrayal, and Mother Brain convinced her that the Chozo never loved her and thought of her only as a "bioweapon"). Then Ridley shows up for the second time in Samus's life, and begins describing how he ate the three-year-old Samus's parents and integrated their flesh into his body while forcing her to watch. Samus is left so overwhelmed by Repressed Memories and existential dread that her Power Suit shuts down and she starts screaming.
- Heroic Sacrifice:
- Rodney Aran sacrifices himself to blow up K-2L's supply of afloralite, both preventing the Pirates from stealing it and giving his daughter Samus a chance to escape.
- Gray Voice attempts to kill Mother Brain, which will cause his mental blocks against violence to destroy his mind. However, he is interrupted by Ridley before he manages to do so.
- Heroism Won't Pay the Bills: Samus saves the day out of a desire to help others, but that doesn't mean she expects to do it for free.Samus: (manifests her suit's Arm Cannon) "Adam, the Mimic is a banned biological weapon. I expect 3500 seguru for this."
Adam: "Wh- You can't be serious, that's three times the market price! We can take it ourselv-"
Samus: "Too late, I'm already done!"
- Hive Drone: The Space Pirates are revealed to be near-mindless without the presence of a strong commander(though the interrogation scene in this very manga contradicts that), with potential candidates including Ridley, Mother Brain, Gray Voice, and Samus herself.
- Hollywood Mid-Life Crisis: Exaggerated. The entire Chozo race effectively went through a mid-life crisis when they realised that over-reliance on life extending technology had caused them to become sterile, and that their once-godlike technological abilities had started to fade. As a result they went from a race of warriors to a Perfect Pacifist People with mental blocks against any form of violence, obsessed with helping other species and bringing about galactic peace.
- The Idealist: Samus starts off as this, before developing into a Knight in Sour Armor after the assault on Zebes.
- Intrigued by Humanity: Old Bird seems to be:Teen Samus: "Sorry about before. I know I have a 'duty', it's just... it makes me uneasy sometimes. I'm not really sure how to explain it."
Old Bird: (smiles) "You worry despite knowing what must be done? Hmm... It is words like that which make humans such a fascinating species."
Teen Samus: "Oi, Gramps. There you go making everything complicated again..."
- Luke, I Am Your Father: Mother Brain claims that, because she designed Samus's Power Suit and oversaw her training, this makes her Samus's mother. Later it's revealed that Gray Voice was the donor for Samus's Chozo DNA, in effect making him a second father to her.
- Nerves of Steel: Few can take a gun pointed at their face like General Adam Malkovich◊.
- No MacGuffin, No Winner: Once they learn that Space Pirates have located the Chozo homeworld and it is under attack, the Galactic Federation want to burn it to the ground, fearing that Chozo technology would make the Pirates unstoppable.
- No Man Should Have This Power: The Chozo concealed the existence of the X Parasite (a fast-reproducing organism which can Kill and Replace any creature with perfect accuracy) from the Galactic Federation because they feared that corrupt elements within the Federation would try to weaponize it. In Metroid Fusion this fear proved entirely accurate.
- Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist: Mother Brain insists that her goals are benevolent for the galaxy and just requires morally ambiguous actions, but Gray Voice sees through her lies and accuses her of being a rogue creation who reprogrammed her directive out of jealousy and contempt towards life itself.
- One-Word Title: "Metroid".
- Practically Joker: Ridley is given a personality akin to the Joker. He's a sadist who enjoys killing innocents For the Evulz and is the personal Arch-Enemy of Samus Aran, who lost her parents to Ridley at the age of three. Ridley also has a sick sense of humor, taunting Samus of how the cells of her mother is incorporated into his body and doing his best to destroy her psyche before he goes for the kill. And that's not going over the fact that Ridley has a lanky purple body with green glowing eyes and is notorious for his Joker Immunity.
- Psychological Projection: Gray Voice accuses Mother Brain of this, claiming that she seeks to control life only because she fears its potential, and to control Samus only because she's jealous of the Chozo choosing her as their successor.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: General Adam Malkovich. When Samus looks set to go vigilante after hearing her home has been attacked (and is about to be razed by the Galactic Federation to prevent its technology falling into the wrong hands), Da Chief orders her to stay put and let the army handle things. Adam on the other hand steps after Samus, despite having known her for less than a day:Adam: "So you're letting emotions cloud your judgement and abandoning your duty?"Samus: "Don't try to stop me! I'm going to Zebes."Adam: "You have 48 hours."Samus: "...huh?"Adam: "The army will foray in 48 hours, Federation Time. That is all." (leaves)
- Rousseau Was Right: The first time Samus meets Old Bird she is frightened of his appearance. Old Bird tells her that while they may look different, they are the same on the inside, words which Samus repeats throughout the story. However, this doesn't work on the Space Pirates, who seem to be just genuinely evil.
- Secret-Identity Identity: Samus's introductory narration has shades of this, suggesting that she has come to feel like two different people depending on whether or not she's wearing her Power Suit.
- Skyward Scream: A cathartic version from Samus when she finally defeats Ridley.
- Start of Darkness: Besides being an origin story for Samus, the manga also provides one for Mother Brain.
- Suddenly Speaking: While both Ridley and Mother Brain had been described as highly intelligent, they never made any sounds in-game beyond a bestial roar. Here, they manage to deliver a Breaking Speech.
- Trauma Conga Line: During the Space Pirate assault on Zebes, Mother Brain, Ridley and Gray Voice repeatedly hammer Samus with dark secrets that make her question her own identity and everything she believed in, while also forcing her to relive Repressed Memories of Space Pirates killing and eating her parents, which culminates in Samus having a Heroic BSoD.
- Tyke-Bomb: Mother Brain claims that this is the only reason the Chozo raised Samus, which is one of the factors leading to her Heroic BSoD.Mother Brain: "The results were satisfactory: you grew to become a spectacular bioweapon. As your parent, I am proud."
- Villains Want Mercy: In First Battle, Samus takes out several Space Pirates on Jigrad before facing their ringleader P-1. Despite having gleefully sentenced a young Damara to death simply because she was too young to be put to work, P-1 throws himself at Samus' feet and begs for mercy. This only pisses Samus off even more, and she's only stopped from shooting him in the face with a point-blank Charge Beam by hearing the terrified crying of Damara herself at the sight.
- Wicked Stepmother: Mother Brain designed Samus's first Power Suit and some of her combat training, though her emphasis on cold efficiency sat poorly with Samus's bleeding heart. By the time of her FaceHeel Turn she had become jealous of Samus for stealing her place as the Chozo's last heir, and sought to force Samus into becoming one of her lieutenants so that she could assert power over her.