By Hervé St-Louis
May 17, 2009 - 07:30
Animal’z is Enki Bilal’s latest graphic novel since he ended his four book Monster series in early 2007. It’s not clear whether Animal’z will launch another series of graphic novels or if this is a onetime story. Animal'z is about a group of human survivors that are looking for a rumoured haven to live in after the blood shot event (coup de sang) that hit Earth suddenly and affected its environment, fauna and flora, leaving the waterways as the only means for safe transportation. But the road to haven is difficult and the one of the means devised by human survivors – turning into human/animal hybrids may not be sufficient to save mankind.
As usual, Bilal starts his story with in the middle of something and it takes a while before the reader can finally adjust their mind to his narrative. But after that trial adjustment, this reviewer felt relief that he wasn’t going to be treated to a post modernist narrative with four level of meanings. OK, scratch that, this is Bilal, there is always four or six levels of meanings in his work, but the one that counts, the straight narrative that only requires the reader to follow along, wasn’t as muddled as his usual fare. The Third volume of his Monster series – Rendez-vous à Paris
was fraught with incomprehensibility. Bilal’s only equivalent in terms of writing would be British writer Grant Morrison, if the latter were not working on super hero themes. Animal’z
on one level reminded me a lot to Morrison’s Animal Man
. The cover of his book is even a take of Animal Man #39
by Brian Bolland, Tom Veitch, Tom Mandrake and Dick Giordano. People through technology developed by Olmes, a rich old man, have the ability to morph into animals and keep some of their abilities when in human form. It’s a means of survival.
One thing absent from Bilal’s world, is flora. I don’t recall seeing any plants. How humans and animals continue to survive without any plants is a good question that’s not answered. We know that they drink coffee, but it doesn’t have to be fresh growth.
Except for the cannibal family, there are no apparent threats in this story which ends up becoming a meeting of minds who after some brief altercations / misunderstandings, in classic comic book style, all team up to find the El Dorado. A meeting of minds means a meeting of intellects and one of the means of communication, in this post blood shot world, seems to be quoting famous men as a means to converse. The book is so full of citations, that some of the characters play around that. Bilal is quite good at finding just the right word for the occasion.
This reviewer found many parallels with the Monster series. Olmes reminded me of Haztfeld, Bacon reminded me of Amir, Francis is much like Nick, and Ana could be Leyla. The story also seems it could be a follow up centuries or decades after the Monster series, as it explores similar scenes of red blooded life.
Grey and red are the only colours in this entire book. Variations gives way to greens and blues, but always from grey or red sources. Characters have the stock Bilal look with high cheekbones and broken noses. Everyone is tall and slender. The crayon colouring adds texture to the shapes that were drawn as sketches and refined many times over. A few panels are completely word captions without images which breaks the flow of reading. Bilal also doesn’t seem to mind integrating the speech bubbles properly in his world. They seem stark and mechanical, much unlike the breathing grey world they partially cover.
Rating: 8.5 /10
Last Updated: September 6, 2021 - 08:15