Thursday, May 2, 2013

Review- ARMIES

ARMIES (Humanoids, 2013; Hardcover)
Collects selections from Metal Hurlant Nos. 1, 2, 5, 14, 56-59, 88, 131-133 (cover dates January, 1975- July, 1987)
Writers: Jean-Pierre Dionnet and Picaret (co-writer, Arn)
Artist: Jean-Claude Gal
Colorist: Dan Brown

This first portion of this book is a collection of short stories, collectively titled Conquering Armies. Originally published in France in the title Metal Hurlant, known to us Yanks as Heavy Metal, Conquering Armies were the only stories printed in English until now. I have no clue about the translation in that collection.
This was originally published in black and white but is presented here in color. I've seen scans of the black and white original, and now wish that Humanoids would produce a black and white version of this material as well. Or a big honking, coffee table crushing 400 page hardcover. This book is a beast, measuring 9.5 X 12.5 inches (24.13 X 31.75 centimeters for our friends in the non-English measuring unit world outside of the United States, Liberia, and Myanmar).
Conquering Armies is a series of shorts about the lives of soldiers in battle, medieval style. These are all clever and have beautiful artwork, which is even more impressive when taken in the context of the era that it was originally published in. It is worlds better than anything we (Americans) were doing at the time. It looks contemporary, which shows just how far ahead of its time it was.
The majority of this book is Arn, another medieval epic about a boy who becomes a slave, escapes, raises an army, and invades the city. The end result is that he achieves nothing. War is Hell, there are no winners in war, and all that jazz. This is a superb book with brilliant writing and artwork. I'm a relative newbie to Humanoids but am really enjoying discovering all of these new worlds.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 5 out of 5.

The OCD zone- Humanoids produces high-end hardcovers that are beautiful and spare no expense, with flourishes like a built in ribbon bookmark.
My only gripe is that they rarely list where the material was originally published, resulting in me spending time on the Internet researching it. For some reason it is insanely important for me to list where the issues were originally presented, and the cover dates for them as well.
Paper rating: 5 out of 5. Expect only the best from Humanoids. Beautiful, thick coated stock paper with a slight sheen. This looks and feels like an art book as much as it feels like a graphic novel.
Binding rating: 5 out of 5. Wonderful sewn binding with a casing that has room to flex, allowing the book to lay completely flat from the first page to the last. This allows you to lay this giant book on your bed and savor it without having to wrestle to keep it open.
Hardback cover coating rating: 5 out of 5. There is no dustjacket on this book. The cover image is printed on the hardback itself and sealed with a super thick, high quality coating that will provide a lifetime of durability and reading enjoyment.

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