Some Thoughts on The Metabarons: Second Cycle

The Metabarons: Second Cycle is the collection of six albums worth of The Metabarons spinoff comic. (Rumor has it there's supposed to be another two albums coming, but Humanoids remains mum on that.)

The Metabarons: Second Cycle, alt cover
The Metabarons: Second Cycle, alt cover

The Metabarons (now called The Metabarons: First Cycle) is the iconic gonzo science fiction comic from Alejandro Jodorowsky and Juan Giménez. It reads like Jodorowsky's combination of Dune and Star Wars, expertly drawn and painted by Juan Giménez. It's a guano interrogation of toxic masculinity long before the term would enter the popular lexicon, given a galactic scale by Giménez's masterful brushstrokes.

Around 2012, Jodorowsky got back on the Metabaronic horse, finishing up the Castaka prequel, which presumably whets his whistle for another cycle. In Giménez's place, Jodorowsky tapped Valentin Sécher & Niko Henrichon for art and drafted Jerry Frissen to help Jodorowsky tell his story. Since 2015, they've produced six albums of The Metabarons: Second Cycle, without Giménez, who died to COVID in 2020.

Whereas The Metabarons: First Cycle was mostly about a lineage of warriors beneath a backdrop of galactic tyranny, The Metabarons: Second Cycle is more about imperialism and the insatiable drive for magic space oil. Magic space oil is called epiphyte, but it's so transparently a stand-in for oil that I'm not going to insult your intelligence.

In the first two albums, the Techno-Technos decided they were going to build their own Metabaron, with tragic results for everyone involved in that person's production/birth. To be fair, most of the description of the plot of The Metabarons: Second Cycle can be followed with "tragic results." The Metabaron finds love…with tragic results! The Metabaron fights off the invading Techno-Technos…with tragic results! Depending on your level of kindness to Jodorowsky, he and Frissen are just as bold or operatic or hamfisted as Jodorowsky was alone.

Some Thoughts on The Metabarons: Second Cycle
A panel from The Metabarons: Second Cycle by Valentin Sécher

What to say about the art? It's top-shelf. It's not Giménez. It's an unfair comparison, but it's who Sécher and Henrichon follow. There's no knocking Sécher or Henrichon on detail or richness in composition. Sécher's work is more realistic and darker than Giménez's. Henrichon's pencil tends to be thinner than Giménez's. In both cases, the color is rich (Sécher paints, I think, and I imagine Henrichon uses computer colors), and the quality is opulent. Their pages are unimpeachable, but it's not Giménez.

The Second Cycle is a worthy successor to the original, even if it ends on a cliffhanger that the original didn't. It's impossible now, but I wish Giménez could have drawn this cycle too. In time, I'll probably feel more strongly about the cliffhanger than I do about Giménez's absence, but that time isn't tonight. Rest in peace, señor.