Science fiction and comics are an awkward mix. The two things should go together like peanuts and beer but all too often they result in lots and lots of quarter bin material. It’s a shame because whether you’re talking about Ditko’s way out space adventures or the far flung future shocks of 2000 A.D., sci-fi comics have a lot to offer.
In the late 1990′s a French outfit named Les Humanoïdes Associés made a big splash with the assistance of the art film director Alejandro Jodorowsky. Jodorowsky worked on several projects, but the one that made the biggest impact for Humanoïdes was called the Metabarons.
The Metabarons was born out of L’Incal, a project that Jodorowsky worked on with famed graphic artist Jean Giraud Moebius. The two had long planned a film version of Frank Herbert’s epic Dune but after the Franco-American funding fell through, they took their reams of work and put it to use in the trilogy of graphic novels called L’Incal. One of the many characters in the story was a revered warrior called the Metabaron. A decade after introducing the character, Jodorowsky decided to tell the tale of the Metabaron and his legacy.
Epics are tricky things and everyone thinks they can write one. 9 out of 10 times I hear about someone’s comic book concept it involves some sort of long-winded 70 issue epic with a thousand characters that spans decades, etc etc. Jodorowsky is that rare breed of gifted and talented artists that comes along once in a very long time. After his art films El Topo (a kind of metaphysical spaghetti western), The Holy Mountain (The Invisibles only wishes it were this odd) and Sante Sangre (his most powerful film in my opinion), it was plain that Jodorowsky had a vibrant visual mind that could easily explore worlds within worlds. It is with this skill and ability that he unleashes an entire lineage of characters leading to the character we see in L’Incal.
A sprawling epic, it is remarkable that the Metabarons also succeeds as a character piece as the author breaths life into each character lovingly rather than concentrating only on key players. The series became a cult hit in no time and had comic book readers asking their shop owners what was up with French comics (something not heard of since the days of Heavy Metal!), however it was over all too soon. DC Comics somehow got the rights to distribute Humanoïdes comics more cheaply in the US and the quality suffered until the entire line became all but impossible to find.
In fact, I cannot direct you to Amazon or any other purveyor of bound comics to buy these comics. No, you the readers must begin a long and arduous journey to find these gems.
But trust me, you’ll be glad you did.