Once again we dive into the world of the really WEIRD and controversial. Mr. Towelhead dares a timid look into the madness of Alejandro Jodorowsky and his comic book: The Metabarons. All images are copyright of A. Jodorwsky and Juan Giménez, used to educate us on this … weird? strange? bizarre? comic.
Mr. Towelhead reviews:
The story is written by Alejandro Jodorowsky and illustrated by Juan Giménez. It goes over the course of 8 volumes released between 1992 and 2003 by Les Humanoïdes Associés editorial. It’s a science fiction saga of what you would call a “roman graphique” that is graphic novel. Defined in the wikipedia as a “fictional story drawn in comic strips and presented as a book.” Being kind of a “book” its much more dense (story-wise), than a “simple”, “cliché” comic. Also, if you know, or have heard of Jodorowsky, you may be aware that this dude (writer) has a bunch of loose screws and is fascinated by controversial issues.
The basic idea behind is, sort of: A caste of super human warriors is given a special gift because they pitied/saved a mysterious bird. The creature gives them power to make the metabarons almost inhuman and powerful beyond any measure. All the while the creature awaits, dormant for the “magical” moment a metabaron would learn to show pity again.
Although this sounds pretty decent and even with a hint of a moral behind the story really concentrates on a science fiction variant of bushido, action, blood, gore and incest :S
The story follows five protagonists, the metabarons as we go through their training, life and death. They have a crazy set of “rites of passage” where each is trained to become the ultimate warrior. Deaden their emotions, become immune to pain and even crazier stuff like a ritual of maturity where father mutilates a part of the son’s body to test the son’s resolve. There can only be one metabaron at a time, meaning that the last trial is a battle to the death with the former metabaron (obviously their own fathers).
Every metabaron goes through the last trial, a battle to the death with their father…
Ah, look at them, their fathers would be proud, Oh wait…
Typically of Jodorowsky (writer) there are taboo subjects, and since the caste of metabarons can only be given to a male son the story revolves around deviant sexuality and cross identity issues (and a bunch of incest). Tied in with the extreme blood and gore you can imagine the story is not for everyone. For my very personal taste (o.k. dudes, PERSONAL TASTE) Jodorowsky’s a f* pervert who tries to pass as an artist. But I’ll let you decide.
Even with all the taboo, the story is somewhat, marginally interesting. The metabaron’s code of honor will pull the strings of your manhood like one of the old action flicks of the ’80s. On that note, the story is VERY misogynic.
Space battles. Juans says “no problem”.
The style of Juan Giménez is realistic, decent and un-compromised. Cities, forests, abstract unknown planets, creature design, machine design, weapons, battles and of course gore, you name it, Juan is a very skilled illustrator and while everything is beautiful (within this crazy story) the speciality is gore. The torturous situations the metabarons find themselves in will revolt your stomach, it goes as far as giving you phantom itches in the respectively mutilated part of a metabaron’s body.
There is nudity and implied sex but no graphic, or better said, pornographic content. Although you will get to see a man giving birth to a son in the middle of a clone massacre :D
Jodoroswky tries to embue a sense of moral behind the story, with the whole pity plot and the last protagonist embarking on a war against technology. Because… I mean look at those evöl iPhones. This is more of an excuse to me than a decent plot/moral. The story thrives from being a fine roller coaster of machismo and BLOOD. The taboo topics are sometimes o.k.-ish within the confines of the story, but other times they are really unnecessary and bringing nothing to the whole. What differentiates the Metabarons from a “regular” Heavy Metal magazine story is that there is a hint of a good story behind.
Mr. Towelhead is disgusted (for the most) and full of encountered emotions, so being objective:
5 / 10
If you like misogynic gore-fests, the Metabarons is for you. If you are a woman, or if you don’t like taboo topics, the Metabarons is DEFINITELY not for you. You will either love it, hate it, or feel like me somewhere in between. So a rate in the middle of the scale is a very symbolic and accurate note for this weird comic.
P.D. In my very humble and personal opinion the subject of pity, or if you like, the realization of: “violence only leads to more violence”, should have been more prominent. The last metabaron does a bunch of things to end the caste, to end a vicious circle if you like. But when he finally gives in to mercy, he embarks on a galactic-scale war against technology. Hardly a change from his previous life. And also, why technology? I’d say that thirst for power, be it through politics, money, religion or even technology is the root of many problems and fighting “technology” is like fighting the symptoms.
With a better written premise, the Metabarons, even with all the taboo topics, could have risen to be a very decent experience.