COMIC REVIEW: Humanoids' Megaplex
Twisted Technological Tale of the Future Hits Hardcover...
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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.
REVIEW: Megalex Hardcover Album: The Complete Story
If you're a fan of Alexandro Jodorowsky like I am, you've been anticipating this latest release from Humanoids, which includes the complete Megalex story in a gorgeous new hardcover package. Previously released in trade paper back form, Megalex tells a story that's just as twisted - if not more so - than most of Jodorowsky's work, all the while presenting the story with gorgeous computer-generated art (at least in the first two parts) by Fred Beltran, whose previous work includes the previously reviewed The Technopriests.
An extension of the Jodoverse - that immense, vast and unpredictable universe created by Jodorowsky which spans various books, including The Metabarons, The Incal, The Technopriests, and Megalex, this story tells a tale that's at once both unique as well as familiar. Machine verses nature, death verses life, love verses hate; each of these and other viscous conflicts reveal themselves throughout Megalex. The story itself is set in the city-planet Megalex, a technological wonder which is ruled with a heavy hand and filled cloned slaves and drug-induced workers. Out of these cloned slaves, one - called Anomaly and later named Ram - is created with what seems to be a genetic shortcoming and this abnormality create in him the opportunity to break his chains and escape Megalex. Helping him escape is Adama, a woman from the labyrinthine underworld beneath Megalex created "before the Anti-gravity era." Seems crazy, right? Just you wait...
In this rich, twisted sci-fi story, readers discover hippodriles, enormous, highly-intelligent crocodile-like creatures which loyally serve their human masters; emotional crustacean-like robot warriors who fire lasers from their hands; a royal family ruled by the undead King Yod, Queen Marea, and Princess Kavatah; and a hunchback named Zerain who, after battling with other tribal chiefs, sprouts wings and declares war on Megalex. Confused already? Don't be. It's actually much easier to understand throughout the course of the story. While Megalex may seem convoluted to some, to fans of Jodorowsky's other works, this is par for the course and actually fairly easy to follow. Simply put: the royal family who runs Megalex with an iron fist wishes to destroy the forest and those who live both there and underground, forever ensuring their reign of terror and drug-induced labor. Those who live in the forest revolt and battle for equality, fair treatment, and peace.
As previously mentioned, the themes of Megalex include the conflict between life and death, love verses hate, and machine verses nature. While each of these plays a role, the primary conflict rages between machine and nature, each trying to battle the other for supremacy and ultimate rule. While I won't ruin the story for you, let's just say Megalex wasn't always a city planet covered in the latest technological wonders and nature often knows how to reclaim what was once hers...
As for the artwork, fans of Beltran will appreciate the artist's work here. The first two of the three books in the trilogy are completed using computer aided, 3D design software while the last book is done by traditional hand. Personally, I'm a fan of the CG artwork (above) in the first two books as it provides an engaging and impressive difference when compared to other comics. That said, maybe Beltran lost the war (or at least grew tired of the battle) and reverted back to his more traditional, hand-drawn artwork (below) in the final book of the series. While somewhat of a distraction, it could be said this change perfectly fits with the books conflict and theme, though from what the artist says in book's introduction, it wasn't intentionally done for that purpose.
Fans of Jodorosky will want to check out Megalex as will fans of Beltran's artwork. Likewise, fans looking for a good sci-fi story that features an interesting story of machine verses nature will also find Megalex worth a read. The story's grand ideas, huge cast of intriguing characters, and futuristic style make for a perfect way to spend a few hours. While Megalex isn't as in-depth as The Metabarons nor as metaphorically complex as Technopriests, it does tell a story that all sci-fi fans and nature lovers will appreciate and recommend.
Be sure to check out a number of sample pages from the book in the gallery here. For more information on Humanoids' Megalex Hardcover Album: The Complete Story, click HERE.
- Jess C. Horsley