COMIC REVIEW: Metal Hurlant Vol. 1 & 2
Humanoid Publishing rocks with two new sci-fi and fantasy anthologies...
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Before there was the fan-favorite Heavy Metal Magazine, which began in 1977, there was the French publication Métal Hurlant. First published in 1974 by Les Humanoïdes Associés, the sci-fi and fantasy magazine's success inspired the publisher to continues to bring hard-hitting, gritty, and violent comics to the marketplace. Now, thanks to the publisher's American counterpart, Humanoids, fans of original sci-fi, fantasy, and hardcore comics can pick up a variety of graphic novels.
Humanoids recently released two hardcover graphic novel anthologies featuring a wide variety of sci-fi and fantasy tales which will interest fans of the genres. There's just something special about hardcore sci-fi and fantasy that's unlike any other genre. Be it the unusual characters, the incredible settings, or the amazing stories, sci-fi and fantasy - especially the stuff being published by Humanoids - hold a special place in the hearts of many a pop culture fans.
Metal Hurlant Vol. 1 and 2 promise to engage readers with the radical ideas, astonishing themes, and brilliant storytelling inside. While a good majority of the writers and artists featured in the two volumes are from across the Atlantic, there are a good number of recognizable names featured, including Geoff Johns, Kurt Busiek, Guy Davis, and Christian Gossett among others. Together, these two volumes share an incredible roster of talent throughout their combined 35 stories.
Some of the highlights of Metal Hurlant Vol. 1 include...
Artist Jorge Pereira Lucas and writer Jim MacDonald's Second Chances (below) combines futuristic sci-fi with a space and time-traveling creation story to introduce readers to a possible beginning to our world. While the idea may have been done before, it's the unique perspective and tight, detailed artwork that make this one worth reading.
The same can be said for another of artist Pascal Alixe's works, Republika (below). Written by Kurt McClung, this unique tale of a dystopian future in which gifted youth who exhibit unique powers and abilities become property of the state and are televised around the clock makes for an interesting commentary on modern day life. With brilliant artwork that's in a color palete completely different than Alixe's previous work featured in the book, Republika is one of my favorites.
American fans will appreciate Red Light, featuring writing by fan-favorite Geoff Johns and artwork by Christian Gossett. The story is straight forward, action-oriented, and engaging from start to finish; not to mention the artwork is unique in its use of the color red. Who knew a story so exciting and deep could be told in 7 short pages?
The sci-fi excitement continues in artist Mark Vigouroux and writer Dan Curtis Johnson's spy thriller, Rapid Eye Movement (below). Swift, silent, and deadly doesn't even begin to explain what type of assassin is featured in these pages! With a unique tale that spans 8 pages, readers find themselves watching a trained assassin killing high valued targets...without knowing what he's doing or why he's doing it!
One of my personal favorites, Endomorph (below) by artist/writer Stephane Levallois is the most unique, fun, and frightening tale in the entire book. The story tells the tale of a squad of soldiers, a child, and a rabbit as they enter hostile territory to uncover a secret weapon that's unlike anything else I've ever seen. With an ending that'll have you wishing the 8 page story was much, much longer, Endomorph is exactly the type of sci-fi that makes anthologies like this worth picking up!
Some of the highlights of Metal Hurlant Vol. 2 include...
Hunter's Moon, by artist Gerald Parel and writer Kurt Busiek (a familiar name for American comic fans). A unique tale of a wealthy, hundred-year-old werewolf on a mission to outrun the moon. With one-of-a-kind storytelling, dynamic artwork, and various flashback sequences all crammed into 10 pages, Hunter's Moon is why books like this exist.
A somewhat comicy tale due to the look of the artwork by Kevin Altieri (inks by George Freeman), Beowulf: A Different Shade of Gray (below) features an interesting morality tale by writer Francis Lombard. Starring the mythical hero of old on an adventure against a frightening monster, this tale - like others before it - forces readers to question who the good guys really are and if what they do is really good...or something else.
King's Crown (below), with art by Richard Corben (reminiscent of an early Barry Windsor-Smith) and a story of one man's quest to change his world's ways by scribe Jim Alexander, the tale is fun and exciting with an ending that'll have you re-reading the 12-page story again and again.
One of my personal favorite, Last Mission by artist Ivan Gomez and writer Sebastien Gerard, features a fast pace, tight artwork, bold action, and a story that'll have you reading it multiple times to fully enjoy the emotional roller coaster told over 9 pages.
Together, Metal Hurlant Vol. 1 & 2 make for an exciting, impressive, and fun collection of 35 tales of hardcore sci-fi and fantasy. I've only touched on a number of the stories within the pair's cover here and fans of both genre won't want to miss the opportunity to explore the unusual characters, incredible settings, and amazing stories within for themselves.
Metal Hurlant Vol. 1 includes a total of 18 tales and focuses primarily on sci-fi, Metal Hurlant Vol. 2 includes a total of 17 tales and focus primarily on fantasy, and both hardcover books retail for a very reasonable $29.95 each. Pick them up at your local comic shop or wherever fine graphic novels are sold.
Be sure to also check out Humanoids.com for a great selection of cutting edge sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and alternative graphic novels.
- Jess C. Horsley