Across the Ocean: Izneo Pubwatch March

Welcome to the March Izneo Pubwatch! We at WWAC have been diving into the latest in European graphic novels translated into English, and I can’t wait to share my latest finds with you. There are also some exciting offers from Izneo this month that you might enjoy. As always, if you haven’t had time yet, please do check out Izneo’s site. It’ll be fun!

And now, without further ado, let’s take a look at the latest news from Izneo. I’ve also got a few mini-reviews of their newest comics for you to read.

In the News…

In time for International Women’s Day on March 8, Izneo just started a special 50% discount offer on comics featuring badass women. You can get volumes of Isabellae, White Claw, Drones, Jessica Blandy, and Shi, each for less than CDN $4. The sale goes through the 16th and you don’t want to miss it!

Do you love Transformers? Get ready to join Optimus Prime in the fight against the Decepticons, because Izneo has a huge collection of Transformers comics from IDW Publishing now available on their site.

If you’ve been enjoying Umbrella Academy on Netflix, now’s your chance to get the first two completed volumes on Izneo for CDN $7 each, or you can buy the entire series for CDN $13.50. Enjoy!

Ankama fans are going to want to head over to Izneo right now. Izneo has added a number of Ankama titles, including Mutafukaz, Wakfu, Doggy Bags, Freaks’ Squeele, and Blackfury.

And finally, Nintendo Switch users are in for a treat! The Izneo reader is now available on the Nintendo console, and can be accessed both online and offline. For more information on how to use the app, head on over to the Nintendo website.

Mini-Reviews: Loved It!

Malaterre Vol 1

Cromatik Lit (letters), Pierre-Henry Gomont (writer and artist), M B Valente (translation)
Dargaud Benelux (French, 2018), Europe Comics (English, 2019)

Malaterre Cover. Written and drawn by Pierre-Henry Gomont. Published by Europe Comics. February 14, 2019. - An older man smoke a cigarette, while in the background a group of three children look at him from a rich green jungle environment

Malaterre begins where Gabriel Lesaffre’s story ends. A life-long smoker and alcoholic, with a penchant for driving under the influence, Gabriel finally collapses in his car one morning after firing his lawyer and, arguably, only friend. The remainder of the story follows Gabriel’s exploits as a younger man, and how he used his charm to get ahead, though it destroyed the most important relationships in his life—with his wife and his three children.

As a protagonist, Gabriel is undoubtedly an unlikable man. He is manipulative and self-serving, and creator Pierre-Henry Gomont doesn’t shy away from showing what a conman Gabriel is.

What kept me intrigued by this story was just how little Gabriel was aware of the effects of his actions. He practically kidnaps his children because he wants them to experience his family’s legacy. Then he abandons them with no money or food in the middle of a city they don’t even know. All because Gabriel is trying to achieve his dream of restoring Malaterre, the property once owned by his ancestors. We all have relatives likes Gabriel, and that’s what makes this a must-read.

Malaterre Page 46. Written and drawn by Pierre-Henry Gomont. Published by Europe Comics. February 14, 2019. - Gabriel smokes while talking to his silent children about the land belonging to them

The art is a bit too pared back for my taste and the colours are muted, considering the locations we see in the comic. I would have also preferred a bit more detailing in the panels.

The book ends on a compelling note, which makes me want to read more. And there’s a hint that author Gomont is using his own life as inspiration. I definitely want to know more about that!

Shelley Volume 1: Percy Shelley

Daniel Casanave (artist), Cromatik Ltd (letters), James Hogan (translation), Patrice Larcanet (colours), Vandermeulen (writer and artist)
Éditions Du Lombard (French, 2012), Europe Comics (English, 2019)

Shelley Cover. Written by Vandermeulen and drawn by Daniel Casanave. Published by Europe Comics. February 14, 2019. - Percy, a slender pale man in historical attire, looks out at a graveyard at night while holding a woman in his arms

The life of author and poet Percy Bysshe Shelley is anything but ordinary. He is expelled from Oxford for writing, and sharing, incendiary atheist works, and then disowned by his father for refusing to disavow his writing. He then meets and marries Harriet, a friend of his sisters’, but with no job and no money, they have a tough go of it. Despite having a child, Percy decides Harriet isn’t for him, and he turns to woo another. And thus he embarks on an unexpected journey of love and adventure with the woman we all know as Mary Shelley.

The first thing one notices is that the art is extremely whimsical, and cartoonish, which is not what I expected from a semi-biography. It would have been nice to see a more realistic depiction of historical figures.

Shelley Page 48. Written by Vandermeulen and drawn by Daniel Casanave. Published by Europe Comics. February 14, 2019.

This docu-comic was far more irreverent and amusing than I assumed it would be. It doesn’t paint Shelley in the best light, but that was probably true of the real man. I love the cadences of the story, and the repeating motifs. And despite Percy’s idiosyncrasies, he makes for a charming protagonist.

However, we all have to admit that it is Mary who is the main draw, and it was a long wait before her arrival in this book. With Mary having established her presence in this series, I foresee the next volume being even more enjoyable than this one.

Arale 1

Cromatik Ltd (letters), Edward Gauvin (translation), Denis Rodier (artist), Tristan Roulot (writer), Bruno Tatti (colourist)
Dargaud (French, 2018), Europe Comics (English, 2019)

Arale Pages Cover. Written by Tristan Roulot and drawn by Denis Rodier. Published by Europe Comics. February 14, 2019. - A figure in a long jacket stands on a rock in a desert; in the foreground, a red mask with a harsh expression rests in the sand

Arale is an alternative universe comic where Rasputin is a wizard-like being, controlling the Czar of Russia with the power of dark magic. When the Czar is attacked, Rasputin needs to take drastic measures to keep him alive—specifically the process of mind-transfers that he has been using to make the Czar appear immortal. But has Rasputin chosen the wrong candidate for the job this time?

‘What if’ stories are always an enjoyable read, and Arale goes beyond its central premise to create a page-turner of a plot with a host of unexpected twists and turns. I like that alongside protagonist Kyril, we also see his wife and fellow army personnel Saskia get into the action and work towards solving the mysteries surrounding Rasputin and the Czar.

Arale Pages 48-49. Written by Tristan Roulot and drawn by Denis Rodier. Published by Europe Comics. February 14, 2019. - A detailed panorama of a war scene with soldiers and dead bodies taking up the entire page; in the background, the sole point of light illuminates the shape of a far-off giant bird

I haven’t been a huge fan of art in the comics this month generally, but Denis Rodier’s work here is particularly noteworthy. Every page is stunning, and Rodier includes tons of detail in the panels. I found myself revisiting pages so I could absorb everything.

Arale ends on a fantastic cliffhanger and I can’t wait to see where the story will go next.

Mini-Reviews: Meh ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Irons Volume 1: The Engineer

Luc Brahy (artist), Cromatik Ltd (letters), Hugo Facio (colourist), Edward Gauvin (translation), Tristan Roulot (writer)
Le Lombard (French, 2018), Europe Comics (English, 2019)

Irons Cover. Written by Tristan Roulot and drawn by Luc Brahy. Published by Europe Comics. February 14, 2019. - A ruined bridge that ends abruptly midway through, with a police car and figure staring out over the edge

Jack Irons has a keen eye for engineering, and he’s going to need it during his business trip through Prince Edward Island. On the way to the airport, the bridge collapses, supposedly because of an explosion. But Irons knows how to build, and destroy, bridges and he knows that this bridge wasn’t taken down by an ordinary explosion. Teaming up with the detective on the case, Irons is about to make a discovery that will rock this sleepy fishing town to its very core.

This is a very dense and complex read. If you are an engineer (unlike me), you might be able to follow the terminology more easily, but if not, you’re going to struggle.

Though the jargon does add context to the story, it also bogs down the narrative quite a bit. So much has to be explained to the reader that this book becomes overly wordy, and plodding.

It doesn’t help that writer Tristan Roulot packs in so much detail about the town’s history. It all ties in together in the end but to get there it is a slog. This is a slow-burn of a mystery, and if that’s up your alley, you might enjoy this first volume of Irons.

Mini-Reviews: Ugh, no!

Medina Volume 1: The Drax

Jessie Aufiery (translation), Cromatik Ltd (letters), Jean Dufaux (writer and artist), ELGO (artist and colours)
Le Lombard (French, 2010), Europe Comics (English, 2019)

Medina Cover. Written by Jean Dufaux and drawn by ELGO. Published by Europe Comics. February 14, 2019. - A woman's face, all in shades of green, surrounded by and possibly melding with what looks like complex machinery

Medina Volume 1: The Drax is an apocalyptic sci-fi story that follows Karloff, a soldier who has found a ‘package’ that could ostensibly turn the tide of war between humanity and the monstrous Drax. The package is a fourteen-year-old girl named Hadron who is carrying the salvation of the planet—a human-Drax hybrid.

Yes, that is exactly as gross as it sounds, but the text never once questions the fact that a teenage girl was kidnapped, raped, and impregnated by a monster. It is simply assumed that their sex was consensual.

To make matters worse, there are a series of panels where Hadron lies sedated on a gurney, her breasts exposed for no reason, as a doctor, Karloff, and his superior discuss Hadron’s future. This is just so many kinds of wrong.

Medina Page 10. Written by Jean Dufaux and drawn by ELGO. Published by Europe Comics. February 14, 2019. - A panel captioned "the inevitable collision" showcases the Drax, virus-shaped monsters that seem to have a single eye on a stalk sprouting from a spider-like set of legs

Alongside this dangerously paedophilic nonsense is a terrible story which is highly derivative. The book opens with author Jean Dufaux’s note about the influences on Medina Volume 1: The Drax. Unfortunately, these influences are a bit too heavy-handed. The Drax look almost exactly like the aliens in Starship Troopers, and the desert setting is far too reminiscent of Mad Max to seem original. There’s even an Alien vibe to the Drax’s frequently bared teeth. This story is an example of references gone wild. A solid miss, in my books.

That’s all for now, folks. Come back next month to see what Izneo has for you!

Louis Skye

Louis Skye

A writer at heart with a fondness for well-told stories, Louis Skye is always looking for a way to escape the planet, whether through comic books, films, television, books, or video games. E always has an eye out for the subversive and champions diversity in media. Louis' podcast, Stereo Geeks, is available on all major platforms. Pronouns: E/ Er/ Eir