New friends, some of the oldest foes and the most unexpected partnerships mark the second Metabaron book, in an installment which reminds fans why they keep coming back for more.

By Abdulkareem Baba Aminu

The Metabaron, returning to the land of his ancestors, Marmola, is convinced that Epyphite, the precious resource sheltered in the heart of his home planet is trying to tell him something urgent. But the anti-gravitation properties of the liquid are not the only surprises now threatening the substance, or the Metabaron. With the New Golden Planet growing increasingly concerned over its shortage, and the continued threat posed by our favorite anti-hero, the Techno-Pope entrusts loyal Techno-Cardinal, Orne-8, to find the ultimate solution, leading to all kinds of hi-jinks.

This, the second book in the new batch of tomes continuing the story of the Metabaron, and his accompanying mythology created by writer Alejandro Jodorowsky and artist Moebius in 1981’s Incal series. Several books later, today we have The Metabaron Book 2: The Techno-Cardinal & The Transhuman, which picks up where last year’s Book 1 stopped. The robot Tonto is back on narration duty, delving into new insight regarding his master’s blood-soaked origins, leading to the time the ultimate warrior vowed to never indulge in the art of war, and to make sure his cursed bloodline ceased with him.

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The Technopope is, of course, back for more of his special brand of cruelty, dealt out with boundless glee. But a new player, the aforementioned Orne-8, shows up, making the usual arch-villain pale severely in comparison. His atrocities, lucidly brought to life by the gorgeous, masterful art of Niko Henrichon, are a sight to behold, well-worth the price of admission. The story, by Jerry Frissen (co-credited with Jodorowsky) is what every Metabarons fan has come to expect from this richly-woven world. And boy, are those expectations met!

From public sex organ slashings, orgies with hundreds of space maidens, and explosive battle scenes, Book 2 has it all. Our anti-hero, after all, is a super-powered, depraved narcissist, so there’s bound to be tons of sex scenes. Most memorable of which are the ones with Orne-8, or a version of the character as he/she is revealed to be a transhuman.

The best part of this explosive book, however, has to be after the Metabunker is blown from within when two nano-bombs explode in the Metabaron’s face. Bloodied and armless, he orders loyal robot Tonto to try and save the life of an unconscious Orne-8, proving that yes, even the most heartless of intergalactic killers can love.

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Again, I must mention Henrichon’s art: The entire Metabarons saga has seen brilliant artist after brilliant artist tasked with bringing that world to life. This volume, for me, is the most visually-arresting I’ve had the pleasure of ogling at in a long time, and its sheer beauty serves the story in unimaginably numerous ways. Some are the depictions of the main and supporting characters themselves, their surroundings (machinery, edifices, spacecraft, etc) and the way the whole tale is laid out, making for a veritable visual feast.

Of course, deaths abound, and a major character bites the bullet, shockingly at the hands of the Metabaron himself. But it is not the most shocking death within, mark you. The body count in the series is always high, but that of significant characters in this tome is particularly considerable. But I assure you, I have never been so pleased to witness a gory, graphic death in a graphic novel, no pun intended.

I find myself trying to catch my breath at the very end of the book, where shocks abound and even a cliffhanger — which should ordinarily be annoying due to the anxiety factor — is strangely satisfying. At this point, I’m dying to read Book 3, subtitled ‘The Meta-Guardianess & The Technobaron. There really can’t be doubt — even a shadow of it — that this truly is the greatest space opera of them all.

The Metabaron Book 2: The Techno-Cardinal & The Transhuman, from Humanoids, is in stores now