The GeeksverseLeaving Proof 100 | “Hellcyon” TPB reviewed

Leaving Proof 100 | “Hellcyon” TPB reviewed
Published on Saturday, April 7, 2012 by
From the Dark Horse Comics website product page

Military cadet Nika McKay returns to his birthplace, the distant colony moon of Halcyon, only to witness the ruthless suppression of the colony’s fledgling independence movement. Joining would-be insurgents, Nika aids in the capture of military “jackets,” combat suits of incredible power and capability. Carrying out a guerrilla campaign, Nika and crew become local legends and targets of Earth’s ire. Dubbed the “Suicide Division,” their nickname may become a prophecy!

Publisher, Creative Team, Format, and Pricing Details
  • Publisher: Dark Horse Books (a division of Dark Horse Comics)
  • Publication Date: April 2012
  • Story and Art by: Lucas Marangon
  • Lettering by: Michael David Thomas
  • Format: 96 page full-colour trade paperback (collects Hellcyon #s 1–3 originally published in single magazine form and the previously unpublished Hellcyon #4)
  • List Price: US $12.99 (digital review copy provided free of charge by the publisher)
What I Liked

Argentine artist Lucas Marangon—probably best known to American readers for his work on various Star Wars titles published by Dark Horse Comics—submits a bravura performance in Hellcyon, his inaugural creator-owned project that sees Marangon handling the writing, illustration, and colouring chores. Much like the best and most popular Western comics artists who’ve successfully assimilated manga and anime influences without letting them define their style (artists such as J. Scott Campbell, Joe Madureira, and Humberto Ramos), Marangon is able to incorporate the figural and storytelling traits strongly associated with Japanese comics and animation into his work while retaining his artistic identity. The result is a meticulously detailed and highly dynamic “East-meets-West” aesthetic that draws as much from the work of science-fiction mangaka Katsuhiro Otomo and Masamune Shirow as it does from prominent South American comics artists like Juan Giménez and the late Carlos Meglia.

   

What I Didn’t Like

As good as the art is, Hellcyon‘s story comes off as a bit perfunctory: Marangon does little to establish believable character motivations or give meaningful context to plot events. The core narrative is somewhat reminiscent of the basic Mobile Suit Gundam conceit, although given Marangon’s personal history as a refugee and survivor of Argentina’s “Dirty War,” it’s more than a little tempting to interpret Hellcyon as an apologue of Latin America’s history of exploitation by foreign multinational corporations, subjugation by extreme right-wing dictators and puppet governments, and the left-leaning violent resistance movements that grew to combat them (one character in particular seems to be patterned after the romanticized ideal of the young, motorcycle-riding Che Guevara). There are elements of good story ideas in Hellcyon, but without expounding on the milieu or showing significant character development over time, what could have been a complex and smartly-engaging science-fiction allegory is limited to a competently-written—if by-the-numbers—morality play with rather low emotional stakes.

The Verdict

Reasonably-priced and featuring some of the best published comics artwork by Lucas Marangon to date, the Hellcyon trade paperback is a solidly entertaining read and any misgivings I have concerning the title rest with how much better it could have been, and not with any notable faults with the book’s actual execution. Readers who bought the original mini-series in individual magazine form should note that this trade paperback is the only way to get the complete Hellcyon story, as the mini-series’ fourth and final issue never went to press.

The “Hellcyon” trade paperback goes on sale on 11 April 2012

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