With almost nothing in the way of preamble, 6 Voyages begins with space traveller Sloane being chosen by a sentient throne and taken to the mad priests of a dormant deity, where an experiment-gone-wrong imbues him with phenomenal cosmic power and accompanying madness, so beginning a ceaseless journey across the universe and encounters with the bizarre entities populating it.
With Philippe Druillet being one of the founders of Métal Hurlant, it’s no surprise that the book’s artwork is both striking and absorbing, sucking you in with page after page featuring sorcerous contraptions of such eldritch design you can’t even begin to fathom their functionality. They look as though they were conceived in a pop-art fever dream of HR Giger biomechanics and MC Escher contortions, then willed into existence by some unseen force of pure aesthetic, each image so finely detailed down to the smallest aspect it’s impossible to absorb its intricacies with a single look.
Planetside action frequently features spiked black monoliths tearing the skies, often flanked by statues inspired by eastern mysticism bent in supplication, paeans to forgotten gods perceiving the ephemeral lives of mortals as fleeting distractions. In contrast, any events in deep space are presented superimposed in bright colour against shadowed planets and faded nebulae, an empty black void stretching out behind them in an omnidirectional chasm of barren infinity. Although the setting is sci-fi some of the story ideas are pure fantasy, such as an island shrouded by a maze of wind or a stone bridge so gargantuan its length spans the space between galaxies, each one of Sloane’s encounters only adding to the already enormous scope of the depicted cosmos.
The poetic prose narration is more than a little reminiscent of Michael Moorcock, recounting the tales as though they were mythical retellings of legendary events long since passed. Additionally, with Sloane being flung from one battle against unbalanced cosmic forces to another, it’s not difficult to imagine him as an interstellar facet of the Eternal Champion. As though in response to the unspoken association, a late reference to “the universe of Elric the Necromancer” is highly doubtful to be a mere coincidence. Although each tale is short in length, none feel abridged or truncated, instead serving as brief flashes of an ongoing narrative, and one with many more adventures still to come.
THE 6 VOYAGES OF LONE SLOANE / WRITER & ARTIST: PHILIPPE DRUILLET / PUBLISHER: TITAN COMICS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW