Keely's Reviews > The Nikopol Trilogy: The Carnival of Immortals / The Woman Trap / Equator Cold

The Nikopol Trilogy by Enki Bilal
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Sep 07, 11

bookshelves: comics, science-fiction, euro-comics, reviewed

There's something so indulgent about French stories, which is at the same time their strength and their downfall. They lilt along, laughing and provoking, never shying away, but there is also a lack of self-editing there that tends to leave them a bit silly and unfocused.

Sometimes, I think it's a problem of translation, and this translation is so unusually literal from the French, as if it were meant for primary English readers who understand the French language and culture, but who are unable to read in the language on their own. This is certainly one style of translation, but for a story like this, I tend to prefer a translation of idioms, emotions, and speech into the new language; but that requires a new writer just as creative and interesting as the original author.

But I also know it isn't entirely the problem of translation, as I've seen complex, intriguing stories that are delightful and deep even in translation, such as the works of Kurosawa or Charlier's 'Blueberry' comic. Then again, they are both familiar with the same Western traditions I am, so perhaps it's an easier shift.

Nikopol shows some of those indulgent tendencies, but also has an undercurrent of satire for overblown space operas like 'L'Incal'. Between engaging in indulgence and mocking indulgence, we get some fun, ironical, self-aware amusement, but there isn't a very strong plot to hang it all on. Perhaps it's my problem, but I tend to feel that nothing can really replace a good story.

The art was good, but the stylization was rather extreme. Everyone had the same cheekbones and the range of expression was disappointingly lacking. The world design was fun and detailed, though it all became similar rather quickly.

The colors were surprisingly straightforward, showing little dynamic exploration, especially when compared to the Moebius works that inspired it. The soft colors were pretty, but Bilal wasn't exactly pushing the boundaries. People were pinkish and the backgrounds were washed out browns and blues. When people were blue or green, it wasn't a mood choice, just some aliens.

It's always interesting to see the sci fi influence of Jodorowski's failed European Dune, from Blade Runner to most of Moebius' sci fi, but Nikopol is just another entry, not particularly revolutionary in its own right, though it was the inspiration for the sport of Chess Boxing, which is amusing enough, as legacies go.

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