Eden. (1994). Story and Art By: Vince.
[dropcap]E[/dropcap]den by French creator Vince is the quintessential Heavy Metal story. It’s a Technicolor BladeRunner-inspired romp painted by the artistic lovechild of Richard Corben and Brendan McCarthy.
Eden is peopled by wonky, old-school robots; deformed mutants; and modified humans with odd – sometimes even brutal or jarring – fashion sense. Chunky techno-towers rise into the sky, and garish air cars dodge between their spires. Off-kilter opulence pervades and provides for constant eye candy.
I’m glad I missed the reference to a character called “The Chosen One” on the first page. If I’d seen it, I would’ve put the book back on the shelf and walked away. Chosen Ones are always a deal breaker for me. I quickly forgot about my prejudice when I started reading the book and got lost in the art and the execution.
Max is a pretty-boy journalist who has grown tired of covering society balls and wishes for some excitement. He soon gets his wish when someone hands him the Second Key of Tetros (the maguffin of this particular story) and he has to dodge the forces that are fighting for control of the Key.
On one side is Ventura: artist, psychopath and leader of an underground faction of mutants who are fighting for equality. Ventura has already acquired and used the First Key of Tetros, and it’s given him the power to alter his body in disturbing and disgusting ways. Ventura craves power above all else and he doesn’t care who he has to destroy to get it. He kills his mutant henchmen with little regard for how others feel about it. He’s blind to everyone’s perception of him, going so far as to lose control at a gala showing his pornographic art and nearly alienating the glitterati of the city. His methods are violence and intimidation.
On the other side is the Chosen One: a buxom, ivory-haired woman dressed as a dominatrix. We know little about her, other than that she wants to keep the Second Key out of Ventura’s hands to prevent him from achieving godlike power. We don’t know why she’s the Chosen One and we don’t know her ultimate motivation. Her methods are sex and manipulation.
Max doesn’t face the shifting perils of the story alone. He has contacts in the local police department and back in the newsroom. But most of his help comes from a red-haired, gun-toting, taxi-driving woman who is never named. She hates him at first, but, by the end of this volume … well, anyone who’s ever seen a movie will know where that’s going. We get a tour of the city while Max dodges the factions that are looking for the Key. Barrooms, back alleys, the sewers, and the enigmatic Section Z – where we really learn how humans value mutants.
A few small sections of the book are devoted to the story of a mass murderer who’s being transported to a prison asteroid. He’s subjected to some rather rough treatment, but he gets free porn in his cell, so it’s not all bad. These sections feature some of the best art in the entire book. The characters and their surroundings are striking and memorable. But the story ends before we learn how the murderer fits into the story.
The last page of the book left me wanting more, and left me wondering how Max and his red-haired companion were going to survive and live happily ever after – at least, as happy as people in a story like this can be.
Eden has a 7 out of 10 chance of waking Cthulhu from his eternal slumber for being pure comic book fun. I’d give it a higher score, but the female characters never rise above comic book stereotypes. Sure, they’re all different people, and they play slightly different roles, but they’re often scantily clad and devastatingly sexy. I know this book is 22 years old, and French, and from the pages Heavy Metal, but I’ve grown to expect more
Though, now that I think about it, Liza the midget assassin keeps her clothes on for the whole book. But she only plays a small role.