Writer: Chuck Austen
Artist: Kev Walker(p), Simon Coleby(i)
Publisher: Marvel Max
Ikaeden and his “deviant” girlfriend Jeska are going to have a baby. This causes some dissention in the ranks, and makes everyone wonder what the Celestials will do about it. Plus, lots of sex and gore!
I wasn’t sure about picking this series up. I passed on the last two issues, but had to admit that they looked interesting. And with Chuck Austen’s reputation around the web, I didn’t really know what to expect from the story. It was when I heard them compared favorably with The Metabarons and The Incal (by SBC’s own Michael Diaz in “What Looks Good: Week 13”) that I decided to take the plunge. I’m very glad that I did. Austen is taking a mature, fairly erotic, look at how sexual relationships function and how emotional connections can develop out of them. In case you don’t know, the Eternals are a race chosen by the Celestials to travel through space for eternity, artificially triggering evolutionary change in native species in order to “grow” a workforce of slaves. These “deviants” are used as slave labor and usually begin worshipping the Eternals as gods at some point in their relationships. Oh, and the Celestials destroyed all the Eternal women and made the men immortal. So they’ve been out for millennia with no real female companionship. It turns out that earth primates share a very close genetic link with Eternals, so the deviant females are especially attractive to them. So, sex for everybody!
The introduction of love and emotional commitments to these characters is a bit abrupt, but for men who’ve been alone for so long, this is probably a pretty accurate depiction of the psychological ramifications of their actions. The characterization of the villain of the piece, Kurassus, is vile and fairly simple. He is a sadist of the utmost caliber, and is capable of some very shocking acts. When they say that this title is for mature audiences, they aren’t kidding. The storytelling sensibility here is one that is decidedly more akin to European comics than American. If you’re familiar with the work of Alexandro Jodorowsky (Humanoids Publishing’s Metabarons, The Incal, TechnoPriests, etc.) and enjoy it, as I do, Austen does work here that is comparable.
Artistically, there is a lot of good work going on here too. The team of Walker and Coleby have created a very daring, distinctive look for this title. It’s like nothing else I’ve seen on the stands for quite some time. The combination of heavy shadow and intricate linework is gorgeous, and the design going into the machinery and the costuming is superb. All in all, this is very impressive work and I’m looking forward to more of it. The characters are also nicely designed. Each character has a specific look and Kurassus is as disturbing visually as he is psychologically. The depiction of violence in this book is one of the most graphic that Marvel has attached its name to for some time, and is made all the more effective for the play of shadow and light.
There’s LOTS of sex and violence in this book. Some might think it’s gratuitous, but I disagree. We are witness to a dam breaking with these characters and physical pleasure, and there are plenty of repercussions to keep this from being mere titillation. This is a good read for adults – especially if you like more European-style comics. If you think all comics should be for all readers then please don’t even open this title. Just go read something based on a cartoon.
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