Review by C.J. Bunce
You may have met him years ago in the pages of Heavy Metal or Dark Horse Comics anthologies. Lone Sloane is a science fiction comics character created in 1966 by the French cartoonist Philippe Druillet. A contemporary of Jean-Claude Mézières–with many shared influences–Druillet imagined a great landscape beyond our realm mixing sci-fi and fantasy elements. It’s easy to spot the similarities between his adventures and those of Valerian and Laureline. With an epic scale also like The Chronicles of Riddick, John Carter of Mars, and Dune, Druillet’s hero and his elaborate world return this month in Lone Sloane: Babel, a new edition of the graphic novel written by Xavier Cazaux-Zago with incredibly rich, detailed artwork by Dimitri Avramoglu and colors by Stéphane Paitreau, coming to bookstores in an English edition for the first time (available for pre-order now here at Amazon ).
Earlier this year we saw a new writer take on Robert E. Howard’s fantasy hero Conan in an all-new novel (reviewed here) and we’ve seen many James Bond spin-off stories after Ian Fleming. Similarly, Lone Sloane: Babel is a hand-off of the story to new creators. First published in 2020 in French, this book will appeal to fans of the originals, who will find this story wraps up Druillet’s library. New readers will likely get the bug to check out the previous stories.
Some of the characters may conjure elementals or celestials from other franchises, like Galactus or the Elementals of Marvel Comics. It has a sexy heroine who evokes Edgar Rice Burrough’s Dejah Thoris. Its hero is a modern-day Flash Gordon with the aura and authority of Vin Diesel’s Riddick–tough and decisive, a no-nonsense, powerful leader. The fantasy and sweeping visuals may also remind readers of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, but there is much more going on here. The style of artwork may also conjure the ethereal images of P. Craig Russell’s adaptation of Wagner’s Ring cycle. Visually there’s much here to soak in.
Avramoglu’s scenery and spaceships are at the same time gaudy and brilliant, without the organic influences of H.R. Giger while also not so dark, but it all feels like a world that is a neighbor to Giger’s Alien. Anjelica Huston’s cyborg queen of Captain EO would fit into this world. Sumerian, Egyptian, Greek, and Roman symbols and art converge in this tale of gods and spirits, all easily spotted in the nooks and crannies of the exquisite layouts and decorative ornamentation. Note that the book is for an older audience because of nudity, language, and certain concepts.
For anyone looking for a different brand of science fiction and fantasy, add the new hardcover Titan Comics English translation of Lone Sloane: Babel to your pull list at Elite Comics or your local comic shop. Or pre-order it here at Amazon in the States or at Forbidden Planet in the UK.