LONE SLOANE: CHAOS, available from Titan Comics on October 14th, recounts the delivery of Sloane’s corpse to Imperator Shaan as a prized trophy, but the journey doesn’t go as planned. This latest installment of the Sloane sage, written and drawn by Phillipe Druillet, brings Sloane and Shaan together for the first, and possibly last, time in their eternal struggle for the soul of the universe.
Druillet’s cover, as with the entire book, is a masterwork in visual design. Sloane holds Legend in a loving embrace as their figures tower over the demonic forces circling Shaan. As rich in symbolism as hatching texture, Druillet presents a multi-layered image that tells a story within a story on every square inch.
Sloane’s dead body is transported by train to Shaan’s palace as the trophy for years of conflict. En route, Legend infiltrates the train and resurrects Sloane to re-assume his place as a symbol of hope for all of Zazhann’s inhabitants against the dark, tyrannical rule of Shaan.
Druillet’s story is an esoteric mix of sci-fi space opera and baroque art. It isn’t easy to classify this as a comic. This work could easily be conceived as a series of bas relief paintings in an ancient cathedral or as a series of psychedelic posters found in some underground, experimental art house. Druillet pushes the Sloane mythology to messianic levels and finds new ways to interpret the value of art, sex, music, good and evil within a space drama context. In lesser hands, the plot would come off as some cheesy sci-fi melodrama. In Druillet’s hands, this is art.
Druillet’s art style will not be to everyone’s liking. It’s a baroque style executed with obsessive amounts of hatching and line work that takes simple characters and settings and complicates them to mind-bending levels. Basic renderings, such as a wall, are brimming with hundreds and thousands of small lines, rectangles, triangles, and a plethora of other geometric shapes to give you the impression that everything has meaning in its texture. You’re almost forced to stare into the very molecules that make up every object.
Of course, this hyper-textured art style makes every character visually arresting, which could be interpreted as magnificent or grotesque. My perception picks up that it’s a bit of both. A true artist’s talent is to give the viewer something that begs interpretation with different outcomes for every viewer. And so, it’s up to the reader to decide if this is beautiful art or grotesque art, and both answers are correct, depending on your point of view.
Jean-Paul Fernandez has the daunting task of coloring in the infinite number of geometries and lines to bring depth to Drullet’s world. In this, Fernandez succeeds admirably. The shading and palette in some panels save Druillet’s work from becoming so chaotic that it becomes unrecognizable. Fernandez satisfies the need to shade the worlds and slathers the entire book in the gritty, molten mood of a world on the verge of civil war. Outstanding work by Fernandez.
The lettering work here is a superb example of organic integration with the art. This book is translated from Druillet’s native French by Edward Gauvin, but it’s unclear if Gauvin executed on the translated lettering or if Gauvin translated the script and Druillet re-penciled the translation. Either way, the word bubble designs also follow the model of excess (sometimes to an absurd degree) additions of geometric shapes and lines for just the simple tails. Those added shapes are technically unnecessary, but they match the art style perfectly.
LONE SLOANE: CHAOS, available from Titan Comics on October 14th, is the type of comic that pushes all the contemporary artistic boundaries. By itself, the story is imaginatively odd but coupled with the hyper-textured art, creates a completely different category of comic. I highly recommend picking up this book for anyone that wants to stretch their imagination.