The Beautiful Death v1 cover detail

“The Beautiful Death” #1

I guess you can call this one the launch title for Statix Press, which was only announced a couple weeks ago.

“The Beautiful Death” is Mathieu Bablet’s journey into the post-apocalypse.  The city is empty, save for one guy. (Or so he thinks…) He’s surrounded by empty streets and empty buildings in the city, as far as the eye can see.  He hops around and has little adventures, keeping his mind active as best he can.

There’s one or two surprises in the book that I don’t want to reveal, so I need to be vague. I will say that the three characters you see on the cover do show up in the book’s second half in a surprising way that made me laugh out loud.  I’m a sick S.O.B., but I think it might be the best part of the book…

Winter in The Beautiful Death

The book is beautiful.  Drawn and colored entirely by Bablet, everything works together.  But his attention to perspective detail on buildings shows in the many pages he devotes to drawing them in this issue. The first half of the issue is wide angles of the empty city and our protagonist walking through it.  It’s great to look at.  The second half creates a little false drama to keep the reader interested, but ultimately it’s still about wandering around an empty city and looking around.

You have to think that Bablet found influence in the works of Francois Schuiten or Otomo in “Akira.”  It’s nearly that level of mania on the page for buildings with every window, gutter, and balcony railing exquisitely drawn in. It works in the context of this book to set a mood.

This first issue is all about scale.  It’s about the small size of a man lost in an empty city.  Bablet sells it hard, lingering over it for an excessive period.  I love that stuff.  A good cityscape can be hard to find, after all.

I just hope that a story kicks into gear with the second issue…

 

The One Big Problem

Nothing happens in the book.

Well, not exactly nothing.  There’s one big twist in it.  But —

The Beautiful Death more landscapes

It’s 40 pages of navel gazing in one issue.  There’s a lot of beautiful art to see, though.

And then, in the middle of nearly nothing, it just ends.  It’s an unsatisfying section of the story.  It’s just people walking around the empty city doing stuff and nothing changing.  (There are a couple of tense moments, yes, but they don’t lead anywhere directly in this book.)

And then the book ends.

I’m interested in reading more of this series because the art is so beautiful.  Taken as a whole, I think it might be an acceptable package.  But I need more to grab onto.  I need some kind of journey or character arc or goal.  There’s hints of aliens and strange insect creatures. We see one of those on the cover, but we never get near them in this issue.

I’m reading this digitally on my big desktop screen, so I have nothing to complain about as far as “page size” goes.  But this is going to be a tricky one to print up.  First of all, you’re going to lose part of the charm of the book at any smaller a size. All of Bablet’s intense detail work will shrink down to nothing.

Second, the color scheme is filled with  neutral tones of tans and browns and grays.  This is not a brightly colored book. And if there’s one thing paper is good for, it’s soaking up the inks and making the final product look muddy.  Let’s hope that goes well…

 

Recommended?

Oddly enough, I would recommend this.  As a mood piece, it’s endearing in its own way. The amount of work Bablet puts into showing the scale of humans lost in an empty city is impressive and enjoyable.  This is a new world to explore with great potential.  The groundwork that is laid points to dramatic things just around the corner.

That all said, if you’re looking for an entire satisfying story, you would be better off waiting for the trade.

Take your pick of covers.  the middle one is by Brandon Graham.  The other two are by Bablet.  Click through to see them at a larger size.

The Beautiful Death alternate cover by Bablet The Beautiful Death cover by Brandon GrahamThe Beautiful Death cover by Bablet

 

2 Comments

  • Chris Morris September 30, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    I picked this up from the store this week and had no idea it was a European reprint at the time. I was attracted by the Brandon Graham cover and the longer page count. Read up on Statix Press after and I think they have the right idea putting these out in single issues. People like me who aren’t specifically looking for European comics will find them in amongst the new releases on Wednesday.

    The Beautiful Death works perfectly well printed on US comic size pages and they’ve used high quality glossy paper that serves the art well. The review is pretty spot on. There’s very little plot but it’s worth picking up just for the art and the mood it creates. I’ll read the next one and I’ll keep an eye out for more releases from Statix Press.

    Reply
    • Augie September 30, 2017 at 1:15 pm

      Thanks for reporting in, Chris. I haven’t seen the print version, so I’m glad to hear they chose good paper stock and sounds like they got it right.

      Reply

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