COMIC REVIEW: Humanoid's ARMIES Oversized Deluxe Hardcover
Jean-Pierre Dionnet, Picaret and Jean-Claude Gal's Classic Collected...
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If you're a fan of European comics, you've probably heard the names Jean-Pierre Dionnet, Picaret and Jean-Claude Gal. Dionnet - along with Jean Giraud, Philippe Druillet and Bernard Farkas - helped found Métal Hurlant magazine, the precursor to Heavy Metal. Likewise, writer Picaret (author of Polonius) and artist Gal (who worked with Alejandro Jodorowsky of Metabarons fame) deliver with ARMIES.
Originally published in black and white in the first issues of Métal Hurlant almost 40 years ago, this medieval tale of military might and fright is collected here in a beautiful over-sized hardcover measuring 9.5" x 12.5" and 185 pages in length. The book features a preface by author Dionnet which provides some insight into the book and author.
As for the stories told here, as a veteran of war myself, I can say it's not so much the battles - those intense, fleeting moments of stress and danger - that capture memory, but the times in-between, when a warrior is forced to think on and fear the unknown future and the hardly survived past, that are remembered best. Here, in ARMIES, writer Dionnet brilliantly captures these in-between moments. We readers observe various tales and characters who must cope with and learn to continue living in a brutal and violent world after surviving battle, living between spear thrusts and sword slashes.
Two engaging and interesting tales are told here. The first, Conquering Armies, reveals various individual stories about common soldiers while the second, Arn's Revenge, tells a longer, more linear story of a slave-turned-ruler who fights to retain his crown and then comes to an understanding far too late. Both stories feature well written characters and plot devices and Dionnet delivers solid dialogue throughout the book. While the first tale is possibly more frightening - as a tale of those "in-between battle" moments, it's Arn's Revenge which tells the longer, more linear story that'll make more sense and be more enjoyable for modern comic fans. Of course, if you - like me - enjoy reading monthly serials of this type, the shorter story will be not only appreciated (especially in this beautiful new binding) but relished.
Of course, while Dionnet's words and plots are impressive, without the beautiful line work by Gal, the book wouldn't be what it is today. The dynamic drawings, layouts and progression leads the story onward and ensures readers never lose sight of where the story is coming from or going. While some purists may have issue with the story being colored, the coloring (which was the first thing I noticed besides the new binding and size) is gorgeous. These now beautifully colored pages are bright and bold which compliments Gal's line work and engages new readers instantly.
ARMIES concludes with a postface by Pat Mills, creator of 2000AD. Overall, ARMIES makes for an enjoyable and impressive collection that's sure to leave both modern comic fans and fans of the classic Métal Hurlant impressed. If you're anything like me and enjoy medieval heroic fantasy, you'll love ARMIES.
Be sure to check out the images here for a preview of the gorgeous artwork included in ARMIES.
Click HERE for more information about ARMIES and order your own copy of this book wherever fine comics are sold.
- Jess C. Horsley