Moebius 2: Arzach & Other Fantasy Stories

Moebius-2_ArzachStrangely, this edition of Arzack, published by Epic / Marvel, offers the stories in a different order than the French edition.

In the first story, ”Arzach” (8 colour pages), the protagonist spies on a naked woman who dresses but he is surprised by her husband. He captures and suspends him to a giant skeleton but all for nothing because, finally, the beauty of the woman leaves something to be desired…

Arzach-p032In the second story, “Harzak” (8 colour pages), our heroes flies over the carnivorous plain on his faithful Pteroid, his luggage being on the back of a second bio-mechanical pterosaur. But after a long flight, the latter is tired and plunges into the killer grass. Harzak must rest his mount but the only haven possible is a kind of arch occupied by a giant primate, red and fierce. Full of nonchalance, the hero triumphs. This is my favorite story thanks to Moebius’ beautiful drawings. In my youth, I made a poster out of one of these boards.

In the third story, ”Arzak “(8 colour pages), a man arrives by car near some sort of stone temple. He enters, passes through a crowd of passive / aggressive green men, then enters a room where he repairs equipments. In the distance, an inanimate Pteroid wakes up. His task accomplished, the man leaves with his car…

Moebius-2_Arzach-p32-33The fourth “story” is a series of eight colour pages that do not seem related but which may form an enigmatic story titled Harzach… The quality and style of each is quite uneven, the best being a double-page fresco depicting an army.

When it comes to the “other fantasy stories”, this part includes a selection of completely different stories (except one).

In “The Detour” (7 p., B&W), Jean Giraud’s family take a detour on their way to the island of Re and makes strange encounters. The story doesn’t make much sense tout the art is beautifully detailed.

In “The Ballade” (9 colour pages), a young explorer crosses the bio-forest reciting Rimbaud. He meets a fauness, who saves him from the attack of an Euchinus and decides to join him to discover distant human cities full of wonders. But in their first meeting with a troop of these townspeople, they are massacred without questions. Moebius said that he used an absurd, sudden and tragic ending because he was coming close to the deadline… This story shows us a beautiful, intriguing and original universe.

Moebius-2_Arzach-p59In “The White Citadel” (6 colour pages), a knight crossed for months the wilderness until he encountered a citadel carved in one single stone. An elf appears and tells him the story of a prideful king who wed a beautiful princess, but as soon she entered the nuptial chamber it closed down, trapping her. The king was barred from entering by a dark creature. Soon the knight fall asleep, possessed by the king spirit, and in his dream fights the dark creature again. In the morning the traveling knight wakes up blind, deaf and mute… Moebius notes in the preface that his friends commented that his stories were always very negative, so to prove them wrong he wrote this one but failed as it ended up again dark and morbid!

In “Ktulu” (5 colour pages), after a last meeting the president goes down a dark tunnel to meet the hunt master who will grant him the agreed privilege to hunt the Ktulon… A short and unremarkable story. Moebius notes that this is a little humorous fable referencing Lovecraft’s mythology and, at the same time, criticizing the French president “using the privilege of his office to go to Africa and hunt wild game” which he found shocking.

The book ends with one last “Arzach” story (5 colour pages) giving some humorous background to the character, the last ptero-warriors helping an artist retrieving the red stone stone by an evil wizard. Amusing.

As for the French edition of Arzack and the compilation of stories that included it, this book offers some of the best examples of science fiction stories by Moebius. It is very interesting (and entertaining) to read.  It’s really worth a look.

Moebius 2, The Collected Fantasies of Jean Giraud: Arzach & Other Fantasy Stories, by Moebius. New York: Epic/Marvel, April 1987. 72 p. $US 9.95 / $C 13.95. ISBN 0-87135-279-6. stars-3-0

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Moebius: Oeuvres Complètes 2

moebiusoeuvrescompletes02couvIl n’y a aucune raison pour qu’une histoire soit comme une maison, avec une porte pour entrer, les fenêtres pour regarder les arbres et une cheminée pour la fumée… On peut très bine imaginer une histoire en forme d’éléphant, de champ de blé ou de flamme d’allumette souffrée.” — Moebius 1976

[ Texte de la couverture arrière ]

Cette compilation de 45 planches regroupe deux différents albums de Moebius.

Le premier album est Arzach qui nous offre quatre histoires sans dialogues et un peu plus d’une douzaine de planches (dont une avec dialogues, certaines en couleurs, d’autres en noir et blanc, certaines sur deux pages) qui semblent plus être des illustrations que des histoires et qui n’ont pas de lien apparent entre elles. Les titres sont des variations orthographiques de Arzach: Harzack, Harzak, Arzak, Harzakc, Harzach, Arrzak. 

Arzach-p023Dans une première histoire qui précède la préface (deux planches, en N&B), Harzack pisse derrière un building et se fait prendre, mais la flaque d’urine prends des allures tentaculaires et saisie le policier.

Dans une deuxième histoire (huit planches couleurs), Arzach espionne une femme nue qui s’habille mais est surprit le mari de celle-ci. Il capture celui-ci et le suspend à un squelette géant mais tout ça pour rien car, finalement, la beauté de la femme laisse à désirer…

Arzach-p032Dans une troisième histoire (huit planches couleurs), Harzak vole au-dessus de la plaine carnivore sur son fidèle Ptéroïde, son bagage étant sur le dos d’un deuxième ptérosaure bio-mécanique. Mais après un long vol, ce dernier fatigue et s’abime dans les herbes tueuses. Harzak doit reposer sa monture mais le seul havre possible est une sorte d’arche occupé par un primate géant, rouge et féroce. Plein de nonchalance, le héros triomphe. Celle-ci est mon histoire préférée grâce au superbe graphisme de Moebius. Dans ma jeunesse, j’avais fait un poster avec l’une de ces planches.

Dans la quatrième histoire (huit planches couleurs), un homme arrive en voiture près d’une sorte de temple en pierre. Il y entre, traverse une foule d’hommes verts passifs/agressifs, puis entre dans une pièce où il répare un équipement. Au loin, un Ptéroïde inanimé se réveille. Sa tâche accomplie, l’homme repart avec sa voiture…

Le deuxième album, L’Homme est-il bon?, nous offre onze histoires courtes: “Les clans de la lune alphane” (1 p.), “Le jeudi noir” (2 p.), “L’Homme est-il bon?” (10 p.), “Quelques books” (1 p.), “Le cerveau du Major (The Long Tomorrow, 16 p.)”, “Le café” (1 p.), “Science Fiction Chronicle” (1 p.), “Babel 17” (1 p.), “Une famille de nageur” (1 p.), “L’univers est bien petit” (8 p.) , et “Ballade” (9 p.). La plupart de ces histoires sont très courtes et souvent constituent une sorte de commentaires de lecture illustrés de romans de SF. Seulement quatre histoires méritent vraiment notre attention.

HommeEstIlBon--p078Dans l’histoire titre, un soldat est poursuivi par une troupe de créatures féroces et vertes. Ils le rattrapent, lui arrachent ses vêtements, puis leur chef lui arrache l’oreille gauche à l’aide d’un tentacule et la goûte. Il fait une grimace, et la recrache! La troupe poursuit son chemin laissant l’homme penaud et nue. On en déduit donc que la réponse à la question du titre est, non, l’homme n’est pas bon!

TheLongTomorrow-p094Dans de “The Long Tomorrow”, un détective privé est engagé par une riche dame pour récupérer un colis dans les bas fonds de la cité (dans un casier à bagage de la station de sub du 199e niveau). Il récupère la malle sans trop de mal, mais lorsqu’il revient au 12e niveau pour la remettre à la dame, le conapt de celle-ci est occupé par la police. La fille a été tué et torturé abominablement. On lui apprend qu’un espion arcturien rôde dans la ville à la recherche du cerveau du Major. Sur le chemin du retour, un assassin tente de la tuer mais il réussit à l’éliminer près de l’astroport. Chez lui, il ouvre la malle qui contient, bien sûr, le cerveau du Major. La fille lui rend visite inopinément, expliquant que la morte était un double androïde. Alors qu’il baise la fille, le lieutenant Fy l’appelle pour l’avertir que l’espion est en fait la fille. Le camouflage télépathique de celle-ci étant tombé, elle lui apparait comme une masse tentaculaire, qu’il élimine malgré ses suppliques. Le cerveau retrouve son propriétaire… affaire classée! Cette superbe histoire, ma favorite de l’album, créée sur un scénario de Dan O’Bannon, est en quelques sorte la genèse de l’Inca. 

Dans “L’univers est bien petit”, un couple en voyage interstellaire atterrit sur une planète et y découvre un naufragé qui s’avère être un vieil ennemi. Toute le monde s’entretue…

Ballade-p114Dans “Ballade”, un jeune explorateur traverse la bio-forêt en récitant du Rimbaud. Il rencontre une faunesse, qui le sauve de l’attaque d’un Euchinus et décide de se joindre à lui pour découvrir des villes humaines lointaines et pleines de merveilles. Mais dès leur première rencontre avec une troupe de ces citadins, ils sont massacrés sans questions. Moebius aime bien ces fins absurdes, subites et tragiques… Cette histoire nous montre un bel univers original et intriguant.

Cette compilation nous offre quelques uns des meilleurs exemples d’histoires de science fiction par Moebius. Très intéressant (et divertissant); à lire. 

Cette édition compilant les deux albums n’est plus disponible mais ils sont sans doute encore disponible séparément (comme dans l’édition couleur USA: Arzach [ AmazonBiblio ], L’Homme est-il bon? [ AmazonBiblio ])…

Moebius, Oeuvres Complètes tome 2: l’Homme est il bon ? / Arzach, par Moebius. Paris: Les Humanoïdes Associés, février 1981. 124 p. ISBN 2-7316-0098-5. Pour un lectorat adolescent (14+). stars-3-0

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© Les Humanoïdes Associés 1981.

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TV Rant

What is it with this new trend? Many paying TV services like AMC Premiere, HBO Now (U.S. only), PBS Passport (U.S. only), etc., start appearing. Look, I am already paying for the damn channel and now you tell me I have to pay some more to get access to your back-catalog streaming, bonuses, extra, previews or advance screening ? Man, that’s harsh. That’s being greedy. That’s exploitation of the masses. I really effing hate you, TV.

And now a special word for PBS: I am already paying for your damn stations (three, in fact) with Bell Fibe TV. How come when I go to your website I cannot watch ANYTHING because “this video is not available in your region due to rights restrictions” ? And it’s the same damn thing for Passport ! Isn’t your call sign saying “Mountain Lake PBS : Plattsburg, Burlington, Montreal” ? I can even donate some money to your station. And yet I cannot use your website or the iPad app ? That’s nonsense! Just go to hell. I’ll donate money when I’ll be treated as a real customer and be able to use your online service!

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TV updates

The Boys

The_BoysNow I’ve watched the entire first season. Impressive. It’s funny, dark and, if not entirely original (it reminds me of several other superheroes shows or movies), fresh enough to be interesting. However, not enough for me to increase my appreciation to four stars. So it remains at stars-3-5.

Maybe it’s my imagination, but it looks to me that Vought International is some kind of allegory for the Trumpian White House, where Homelander represents Trump, the rest of the Seven being his cabinet members and the corporation’s high hierarchy being the PAC that finance and control the whole thing… Of course, the comic book was published in 2006-2012 and couldn’t have predicted such a freak president, so it’s probably just my mind playing a trick on me (although the show producers could have put a slight emphasis on this aspect…). 

A friend, who has read the beginning of the comic, told me it was quite violent and he was rather disappointed by how tame the TV series was. The comic intended to out do the violence and sexuality of Preacher, but unfortunately it appears that Amazon Video is not as daring as AMC or HBO when it comes to TV adaptation.

The way it ends offers a little closure, but this end most likely calls for more. Indeed, Amazon has renewed it for at least another season. Now what?

Check my first comment for more information on The Boys.

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Euphoria

euphoria2I’ve caught up to the episodes I had missed at first and even watched the complete first season. This show is a mess — but a beautiful mess. It’s intriguing and even enthralling — almost addictive. It gets better and and better with each new episode. The characters grow on you and it makes the drama created by Rue’s self-destructing behaviour or the misunderstanding and missed opportunities of everyone’s relationships even more painful to watch at time. That’s the sign of excellent writing. That’s not the type of show I would normally watch, but now I feel I would like to see more. Too bad the first season is over… Although it is still available on streaming and the show has been renewed for another season next year… However, if THAT’s the life of today’s teenagers, I weep for the future…

This one definitely deserves to be upgraded to stars-3-5 or maybe even a stars-4-0 !

Check my first comment for all the show details.

Capsules

Jamestown

JamestownS03Tonight on PBS, the Jamestown series is concluding with the end of its third season. It started as an interesting historical drama about one of the first successful British colonies in America — although it is not clear how much “historical” it really is (the series is shot in Hungary; they use the names of some of the colonists, like James Read, but mostly of the Governor Yeardley and his wife Temperance, as well as the Pamunkey King, OpechancanoughPocahontas is NEVER mentioned). After the failure of Roanoke in 1585, Jamestown was established in 1607 and the story begins twelve years later with the arrival of the first women and, in second season, of the first indentured “servants” (African slaves). At first, it focuses on the politics of the colony and the schemes behind the Virginia Company. Unfortunately, it quickly turns into fantasy with lots of supernatural plot elements and ends abruptly with the massacre of 1622 — when the local native tribes, the Pamunkey and the Powhatan Confederacy, get fed up with the abuses and false promises of the Englishmen. The reviews were probably so bad in the U.K. (however ratings on IMDb [6.9] and Rotten Tomatoes [78%] were relatively good) that it was quickly brought to a conclusion and terminated. It was an entertaining drama, but it could have been so much more. Disappointing. stars-2-5

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Others

PreacherSeason4Preacher has restarted but it will be the last season. I can’t wait to see how they will end this one. The first episodes are set at Masada, in the Middle East, and then it will move to Australia. Actually, it was all shot in Australia. An amusing splatter & gory series that I will not really miss after it’s gone. Check the trailer. stars-3-0

Poldark is also concluding with a story line that covers the gap between the two book series. So it has more to offer for those who has loved the books. I’ll be sad when this fifth season comes to an end. I really liked those characters. After tonight, there will be only three episodes to go… Check the trailer. stars-4-0

Pandora continues its disappointing run. Its not good enough to really appreciate it, but it’s not bad enough to drop it. So, I’ll continue watching it hoping for improvements… stars-2-5

KilljoysS05Killjoys has also restarted for a fifth season. The team is struggling hard to escape the grip of the Lady… A beautiful and excellent Canadian sci-fi series (second only to The Expanse) that will unfortunately conclude in September. Check the trailerstars-4-0

The first season of Blood & Treasure has ended but the series was renewed for a second season. A cute but quite ordinary action/adventure series. stars-2-5

The seventh season of Elementary will end next week and that will conclude the series. It was an interesting modern adaptation of Conan Doyle‘s Sherlock Holmes (more palatable for the general public than the excellent but frantic Sherlock). I liked the idea of making Watson into a woman (played by Lucy Liu!). It was nice while it lasted but I won’t miss it too much as it was getting a little repetitive and stale… stars-3-0

The sixth season of The 100 has ended and there is only one more season to go as it was announced that the series will end next year. It is not super original, but the story and setting are quite interesting — I can’t miss on a post-apocalyptic series! Good sci-fi drama. stars-3-0

Tonight, the second part of the fifth season of Fear the Walking Dead is restarting (check the sneak peek). I didn’t like the first season, but now I like this series even better than the original The Walking Dead. I don’t see the horror in it, but I like the post-apocalyptic survival aspect. The fifth season will end in September and it was renewed for at least another season. It’s an interesting drama. stars-3-0

TheTerrorInfamyThe second season of The Terror is starting tomorrow. The first season about the Franklin’s lost expedition in the Northwest passage was quite good (see my comment). This new season offers an entirely new story and cast (including Derek Mio, Kiki Sukezane, Naoko Mori, C. Thomas Howell, and… George Takei !). Subtitled Infamy, it is now set in a Japanese-american internment camp during WW2 as some characters are haunted by a ghost from their past and the camp is terrorized by a bakemono! It airs Mondays 9e/8c PM on AMC. Check the official trailer.

Season_4_SDCC_2019_PosterThere’s now a longer trailer for the Watchmen playing on TV (HBO, October 2019). The visuals still doesn’t excite me and the story will definitely be different from the comic or the movie, but it looks intriguing. We’ll see. There’s also a longer trailer for His Dark Materials (HBO, late 2019), which seems even more intriguing and appealing. I can’t wait for this one…

You will be glad to learn that The Expanse is coming back in December for a fourth season and that it has even been renewed for a fifth !!! However, it moved from SyFy to Amazon Video (check the production trailer). Also, there is still no news on the third season of Westworld set for broadcast in 2020… Finally, everyone is asking where is the twelfth season of Doctor Who ??? Apparently it is currently in production, but the release has been delayed to 2020.

While writing this article, I have discovered Carnival Row, a very intriguing victorian (“Neo-noir”) fantasy that will start on Amazon Video on August 30. It certainly deserves a look. Check the trailer. 

It really seems that there’s a lot of good TV series coming ahead. The competition between all those independent or internet pay channels (like AMC, HBO, Prime Video, Netflix and soon Apple TV+) is bringing out all the good stuff. Where/when will I find the time ?!

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Capsules