The Metabarons are a dynasty of ultimate warriors, originally featured in The Incal – one of the seminal euro-comics of the 1980s – then spinning off into their own series, called The Metabarons, currently collected in a 550-page hardback book by Humanoids and reviewed here.
The original series followed the Metabarons through all eight generations of their dynasty. Although each Metabaron has been different, certain traditions initiated by the first Metabaron (although not always purposefully) have been upheld in order for the next generation to succeed the previous: a mutilation by their father’s hand; a childhood devoted to training and killing; and ultimately a face-off with their father that must result in the death of one or the other. Along the way, the Metabarons have amassed a huge fortune by selling their superior services to the highest bidder (when it pleases them), which has allowed them to develop and invest in the best military technology, further cementing their place at the top of humanity’s soldiering food chain.
If all this is news to you, this book isn’t the place to start. A rich history awaits you in the original Metabarons series that feeds directly into this volume. Without it, the story in this new book can still work, but much of its subtlety will simply wash over you. Seriously, if you fancy some of this deeply detailed, brutally barbaric, surprisingly saucy and frequently funny sci-fi space opera, head for The Metabarons collection first. It’s held up very well over the last couple of decades and if you like that you can always come back for more.
Still here? Good, then I can presume you’re already a Metabaron fanatic and are ready for more of the same, in which case you won’t be disappointed. The action here revolves around the current Metabaron, but much is the same, with amusing sidekick Tonto helping (or is that hindering?), and the Metabaron proving a decidedly tough nut for his enemies to crack. Most of the action centres on the Metabaron’s foes, who are hatching plots to beat him to further their own nefarious causes. The Techno-Admiral of the title is a hard, vicious cyborg, intent on destroying the Metabaron with the full weight of his space navy behind him. He clones the Anti-Baron from a drop of the Metabaron’s own blood, fulfilling one element of the Metabaron code: that it’s only the progeny of the Metabaron that can defeat him.
The biggest difference between this and previous books is the change in artist, with original illustrator Juan Gimenez unavailable to work on these episodes. His replacement, Valentin Sécher, brings even more to the party, though, taking up the challenge of picking up where Gimenez left off and running a country mile with it. Some of the overtly sexual content is toned down and while Sécher doesn’t shy away from an exposed breast here and there, it’s less gratuitous than in The Metabarons series. He doesn’t shy away from the gore, though, and this remains an adult book crammed with darkness and violence: exactly how a Metabaron book should be.