After reading the first two books in Humanoids‘ projected four book series, The Metabaron, I reminded myself to go back and reread one of the greatest graphic novels ever conceived which first introduced the mysterious, the last of his kind, the Metabaron within its pages–The Incal. Created by Alejandro Jodorowsky and Jean Girard (aka., Moebius) their amazing, mind-bending collaboration would spin off many other graphic works which would come to fruition as The Metabarons and The Technopriests with the former being the saga of the Last Metabaron’s family and how he came to be the universe’s greatest warrior. When I learned Jodorowsky wrote another science fiction epic involving one of the most enigmatic characters in Eurocomics and it was illustrated by another comics legend, Juan Gimenez (The Fourth Power; Leo Roa), I sought it out immediately, finding it published in various slim volumes which I coupled together into one long saga. It still didn’t seem complete and I soon found a huge slipcase edition of what could be one of Jodorowsky’s swan songs–burning a hole in my wallet and I let it. It was worth it. The Metabarons became another classic graphic novel that would shape my world–it was inspiring!
And now Jodorowsky returns to his Last Metabaron–shaping the story but leaving the scripting to a surrogate, Jerry Frissen (Lucha Libre, Unfabulous Five, The Zombies That Ate the World), while the beautiful artwork is done, so far, by Valentin Secher (Book 1) and Niko Henrichon (Book 2)–which may finally bring this searing epic to a close. The Metabaron Book 1: The Techno-Admiral & The Anti-Baron kicks off the new chapter in the titular character’s saga by shifting the throttle into one-hundredth gear to Jodorowsky’s insane, horrific universe, throwing it into overdrive, weaving a bloody tale with his own fingers or by guiding others.
As the wild new chapter in our galactic warrior’s saga unfolds, it begins in the aftermath of a vicious battle between the Techno-Pope’s elite forces and the Metabaron housed inside his interstellar death machine of war, The Meta-Bunker. The Metabaron has grown weary of killing and goes into a deep warrior-zen meditational stupor–vowing to never kill or wage war again, regardless of his murderous hatred for the twisted Techno-Pope. He wants to change and the universe to change with him–fighting against the forces of family tradition.
Meanwhile, The Techno-Pope is constructing a massive interstellar structure known as the New Golden Planet after The Metabaron destroyed the original in his war against the Techno-Technos–building it a thousand time larger. It is massive enough to house planets inside its shell and must be powered by the precious anti-gravitational oil known as Epyphite. This oil is found on only one planet in the known universe, Marmola, home planet of the Metabaron’s family–the only family who would live there, quarrying marble for the rest of the universe and keeping the secret of the Epyphite. Then, through tragedy, the rest of the universe finds out about the secret of Epyphite and demand it be handed over to the then Emperor of the Universe. War becomes inevitable, billions die and the Metabaron’s family is forced to hand over the Epyphite allowing the Techno-Techno’s to fuel their starships to reach the endless edges of the universe–expanding their tyranny into the void.
Book One: The Techno-Admiral & The Anti-Baron deals with the Last Metabaron and his struggle to be free of war and a tyrant, Wilhelm-100, who wants to be more than just a dog-of-war for the Techno-Pope. With the help of one of his most trusted slaves–an ambitious mad scientist–, Wilhelm-100 has a clone made from our hero’s DNA, the Anti-Baron. The plan is diabolical and done mostly behind Wihelm-100’s back with the mad scientist having plans of his own. It is a crazy story and a worthy entry into the original plotline begun in The Metabarons and should be sought out by fans of Jodorowsky’s science fiction universe he keeps adding to with not just these books, but other graphic novels as well. There is a lot of exposition and character development but with the beautiful artwork done by Valentin Secher (Khaal), it flows smoothly–arresting your interest, even more, when the action commences.
Book Two: The Techno-Cardinal & The Transhuman brings about the Metabaron’s desire to watch the universe come to an end, burning to a cinder while enjoying himself with something he has never experienced before–the human senses. He takes away his invincibility so he can feel pain again–because pain is honest–and to feel pleasure, something no Metabaron has felt for generations. He buys hundreds of women from a brothel planet and commences orgies of the flesh while he waits for the universe to collapse on itself. How does he know this will happen? Because he discovers the true nature of the precious oil, Epyphie. Not only is it a fossil fuel that is older than the universe itself, it is what holds the universe together–a metaphysical glue, so to speak. And the Techno-Techno’s have deleted it from the wells of Marmola–the planet has run dry. Meanwhile, an ambitious Techno-Cardinal, with the aid of her Transhuman android, infiltrate the Metabaron’s Metabunker bringing new drama to The Metabaron saga. In this book, Niko Henrichon’s (Barnum!, Pride of Baghdad) artwork is more than up for the task of tackling this saga and taking it into this new direction–showing the Metabaron at his most vulnerable. Galaxies literally collide within this volume letting us know the universe is definitely doomed and making us wonder how will this allow Books 3 & 4 to continue the story? If it comes from Jodorowsky’s brain, you know it’s going to be a complete freak-out, surreal experience and it will continue to a wild conclusion. I would expect no less from this master of the graphic novel.
This is just scratching the surface with a broken fingernail when describing the events of the first two volumes in this series because it is moving into something that is going to be world shattering for our Metabaron, especially by what is revealed at the end of Book 2. Both of these books by Humanoids are beautifully published in hardcover format and are part of their best new series to date. Jerry Frissen may be credited as the writer on The Metabaron Books 1 & 2, but the story has Jodorowsky’s fingerprints all over it. If you have never heard of this character (because you have to be living under a rock), make a point to educate yourself about this weird character with the first series that comes before this one, the aforementioned graphic novel, The Metabarons. It will open your eyes to what is possible in comics. And then pick up everything by Jodorowsky has written in comics, starting with this one, and then work backward. It’s an interesting process but one which will reward you beyond your comprehension. The Metabaron and the Jodoverse are comics for the thinking, creative person who wants more from their comics than just men and women in tights. And The Metabaron Book 1 & 2 are no exceptions.
I love this new series and I will wait impatiently for the next volume, Book 3: The Meta-Guardianess & The Techno-Baron, because it is far from over. Jodorowsky continues to shake up the world of comics with his Jodoverse, making people look at his works and realize he is setting the bar for them to do better in the medium. Many learn from him and grow while others try to attain his level but forget to expand their imaginations beyond the borders of their comics panels. As for a final verdict on this series, the jury is still out as more evidence is needed–two more books are on the way. But if this series continues on the path it has already set for itself, I believe it will become another graphic masterpiece from one of the most eccentric creators in both films and now, even more so, in comics.
Make mine Humanoids!