We’re told at the beginning of this book (an adaptation of a novel by Eugène Sue) that Atar Gull, the hero of the story, is an African chieftain. However, in 1830, at the point when we first meet him, he’s been bound, tied and herded onto a ship bound for the Caribbean to be sold as a slave.
This is the start of a chain of events that engulf the rest of Gull’s life. He gets stolen by a spectacularly ruthless pirate, still gets sold as a slave and ends up working on a plantation. However, one twist of fate stops this intelligent, strong, mountain of a man from accepting his lot. Instead he puts a plan into action that will allow him to wreak his revenge.
It’s a stunning story, one that will sicken you as it thrills. Nury doesn’t shy away from the horror of the slave trade but builds a compelling story of humanity around its sickening, depraved madness. There are few innocents here, though, and no-one is left unharmed. Nury pulls no punches, with the story developing along a path that’s as brutal as this episode of our history merits.
Brüno’s art is sublime, as refined a mix of colour and light as we’ve seen in his previous collaborations with Nury. If anything, this is even better, a beautiful economy of lines, shadows, silhouettes and angles that show an extraordinary compositional skill.
What we have here, then, is a masterpiece. A beautiful horror story, a fantasy anchored in our brutal, disgraceful history, and a piece of art created by two practitioners at the top of their game. Enjoy.