Metabarons: Path of the Warrior
Japan and the U.S., has their own style of comic book making.
Most European books are printed in a larger, thinner format
called graphic albums, not novels. One company that is
bringing European comics to America is the fairly new Humanoids
Publishing (their American branch is new, anyway).
has been a comic producer in Europe since 1988 (the company
having started under a different name in 1974 and later purchased)
and the list of artists that work for the company is damn
impressive, Moebius being the most well known.
only been in that last few years that Humanoids has had a
foot-in-the-door of American comics (besides a brief exposure
for their product during Marvel/Epic line in 1988) and one
of their most popular titles in English or any other language
is The Metabarons.
is actually a spin-off series from Moebius' epic The Incal
(The Incal is just now getting translated for American audiences
with one volume out, due to the success of The Metabarons)
but one wouldn't notice while reading this book.
a clan of warriors that have a long tradition of being the
most capable fighters in this or any other universe (and yes,
there is more than one). Richly written by Alexandro Jodorowsky
and drawn and colored gloriously by Jaun Gimenez, the tale
of these warriors is a generational one.
flashback, the story is narrated by a servant robot named
Tonto, who is prompted to relate the tales of the Metabarons
(whom he has served for centuries) to another robot servant
by the designation of Lothar. It sounds weird I know, but
imagine if R2-D2, instead of the beeps we assume mean he's
an indignant little toaster, could actually swear at C3PO.
Lothar and Tonto are fun storytellers and Jodorowsky never
makes them too boring or inordinately annoying to distract
us from the story.
and what a story it is. From what I've gleamed from these
comics, Europeans don't like to waste a single panel in their
comics. These books are energetic to say the least: in the
space of twelve pages, one can see a war fought and lost,
then see a large living ship come over a planet's horizon
with nothing but destruction on its mind. You might even get
in a little inter-galactic intrigue thrown in to boot before
one hits yet another rapid plot point. While Jodorowsky may
pace the book quick, it's not devoid of content. Each scene
is full of dialogue and commentary, as well as story content.
first volume, we follow the first Metabaron, Othon Von Salza
Castaka, and his trials and pains in establishing the future
line of Metabarons: pains that include the loss of a son,
two wives, and a planet or two.
be apropos to point out this book pulls no punches. Violence
is violent here, and more so than in American comic books
like The Authority. Men, women and children die horribly in
these books, and there's also the Metabaron tradition of body-mutilation,
in favor of cybernetic enhancement.
to Gimenez's superb style (you might call it Heavy Metal-esque,
which is appropriate since Humanoids has published the European
equivalent of and inspiration for Heavy Metal, Metal Hurlant,
for years) it seems necessary to the book, maybe even grotesquely
beautiful in a way (don't I sound all poetical and flowery?).
this is pure science fiction, the European influences show
distinctly in the depiction of the Castakas. Where most of
American sci-fi features a hero of some type or another as
the lead character, the Metabarons are just really tough bastards
who fight better than everyone else. They're not out to help
anyone but themselves, and always feel the need to continue
their genetic line (an aspect very much a part of the European
culture as a whole is appreciation of their heritage and ancestors,
a sentiment this book definitely echoes). The story is also
European in that it is an epic story. Time actually passes
in the books, and all the characters involved feel it. It
is an excellent read, especially if you're a fan of Heavy
Metal, or just looking for something other than the normal
superhero fare. There are two subsequent volumes out already:
The Metabarons: Blood and Steel and The Metabarons: Poet and
Killer, as well as another on the way in February, and they
are all reasonably priced (cheap comics goooood, $35 hardcover
reprints are baaaaad).
read and frugal. 'Til next time.
Path of the Warrior