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Blogathon Best of 2012: Pre-2012 Comics – The Metabarons

Something that always seems to get lost in year-end lists is that no one experiences just new things. You always have a mix of new and old and the old always get lost. So, mixed in with my top ten comics of 2012, I will discuss five comics (in alphabetical order) that are from before 2012 that I read in 2012 and loved. We continue with… THE METABARONS BY ALEJANDRO JODOROWSKY AND JUAN GIMENEZ!

This is one fucked up comic. It deals with a topic that I find rather interesting when it comes up: the idea that a family line has to come first. One of the things I liked most about Gormenghast was the way it looked at that idea — even season two of Justified explored that to an extent. The Metabarons deals with it rather explicitly, going so far as to introduce little rituals and bullshit codes into what being part of the family line means. Most people would see a couple of freak accidents that result in requiring cybernetic prosthetics as things to avoid in the future, but these insane people turn that into a requirement. Want to be the new Metabarons, you need to lose part of your body and, then, kill your dad. The final Metabaron is the only sane one when he decides that he will be the last Metabaron, ending that cursed, fucked up family forever. Of course, if he were serious, he would have committed suicide. But, he’s a weak one that boy.

This is space opera, emphasis on the opera. Large, generational, dramatic, and so damn addicting. I had read parts of The Metabarons before this year, but the recent hardcover release (the smaller, cheaper hardcover) was the first time that I read the entire thing. I could barely put it down. Also, the way that the robots’ story actually factored into the overall plot was great. The slow build to the reveal was very well done and surprising.

Juan Gimenez is amazing. I’m not always the biggest fan of painted art in sequential narratives, but it’s hard to not love Gimenez. Though, as Tucker Stone said, it’s hard to notice him too much when you’re reading about these fucked up things Jodo is writing. You almost need to stop and force yourself to forget that he’s drawing a scene of sci-fi incest to appreciate his actual art. I wish I gave it more attention, honestly. But, the writing distracts far too much. It’s kind of hard to get over.

That generational story. That focus on the idea of the family line… it’s compelling and something I’ve yet to tire of.

In 90 minutes, I’ll return with my #4 comic of 2012.

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4 Comments

The thing that distracted me the most from the writing was the fact that it was basically Dune as retold by a thirteen year old.

Metabarons is amazing. Probably my favorite comic by my favorite comic writer.

The Dune comparison is obvious but isn’t distracting. Fraction even states in the introduction aspects of the Jordo Dune pre-production made it into this, not to mention Incal. There are aspects of it, but if Dune distracts you from the insanity of this book, that’s pretty odd to me. There were several plot twists that I’ve never seen done before. On every page, something I’d never seen.

The Incal is glorious. Clear world-build and satisfying escalation of action, small shards of satire and formalism, the insanity is counter-balanced with enough human element to make it palatable.

The Metabarons is the teenage heavy-metal version of that. It’s not that Jodorosvky took his, and his collaborators’ ideas and designs from the Dune project and turned them into the comic, what seems distracting.
It’s the way he did it.

I agree that some plot points were nice, I liked the way in which the framing story bleed into the main story, but the tone and the pacing, the escalation of danger (the last Metabaron had to figh a Galaxy, the new one has to fight an Universe…) remind most of Axe Cop. And Gimenez draws pretty, but his storytelling is only ok and his world-building is not that great. With a story paced like this you need an artist that can make a scene, a character, a world seem vibrant, and expressive and alive in only a few images, mostly because that is all the space Jodorvsky allows him. Also, the painterly style gives a way to serious tone to a way to over the top story.

Sometimes it’s a fun comic series. Hardly a great one.

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