Alone v6 cover detail by Bruno Gazzotti

Alone v6: “The Fourth Dimension and a Half”

The kids are dead.  And then things get worse…



Writer: Fabien Vehlmann
Artist: Bruno Gazzotti
Colorist: Usagi
Lettering: Design Amorandi
Translator: Jerome Saincaintin
Published by: Dupuis/Cinebook
Number of Pages: 51
Original Publication: 2011


The Story So Far…

Quick reminder: I’m not shy about spoilers for previous volumes of the series. You’ve been warned, if you’re not already all caught up.  “Alone” is one of those serialized stories with lots of shocks and twists along the way.

The kids are all dead. They explain how in the opening pages of this book.

The previous volume of “Alone” pulled a “Lost” on us. The kids are all dead. This is purgatory, I guess? I jumped immediately back to the first volume to read those opening pages again. Yes, it all fits together.

This book opens with the kids recounting how they died, now that they realize they’re dead.  The pieces come together easily on that part.  The biggest question now remains the forward-looking part: Where are they really?  Where’s everyone else?  What’s next?


A Very Theoretical Alone

The kids discuss religion and God as only kids can.

There’s some talk in this book about higher matters. First, the kids attempt to have a funeral to mourn their own deaths. Before things fall apart in a colorful blaze, there’s talk of religion and what it means now that they’re in the after life.  It comes from a very youthful/immature angle, so it makes sense and fits right in.

The kids bring in a homemade ouija board for help.

Next, the kids set up a ouija board to talk to spirits, who may or may not answer them.  Gazzotti draws some dramatic lighting and shadows for that scene.  The circle of candlelight adds some serious contrasts to those pages, which might be the most visually impressive of the series so far.

Series colorist, Usagi, keeps things in line, with the bright yellows set against the darker brown of the table.  It’s great stuff.

Then, during a chat with Ivan in the library, Anton presents an alternate theory of what’s going on.  It’s a very high concept topic, and one that’s just crazy enough to work.  Maybe. I don’t think there’s any weight we should give to it, but it is credible in the scope of this series.  I think it’s just there to raise a slight doubt in the reader.

But who knows? Vehlmann spends an awful lot of time filling a couple pages with word balloons to explain it.  I hope it amounts to something at some point, even if just for the character who believes it might be true.

After all that high-minded talk, though, the “Lord of the Flies” stuff comes out to play…


The New Society

The army of Saul comes up the street, weapons in hand.

Things go straight to hell in a hand basket. The world has divided into two teams: the crew we’ve followed all along, and the sniveling young punks who line up behind Saul. They’re made up of kids who have no idea what to do and will follow any strong leader they can find, and the kids who are rotten to the core and see Saul as a similar type.

And they’re playing for keeps.

Don’t forget: Saul is a guy who let himself get eaten by a shark to show everyone that they can come back from the dead. He’s serious.  Whether that’s a sign of good leadership or just craziness, though, is something you’ll have to decide.

I’ve compared this series to “The Walking Dead” before, but it really comes to the forefront now with this story turn. It’s tribe against tribe, and they’re playing for keeps.

Saul isn’t exactly hitting people over the head with a barbed wire bat, but he is ready to wage some serious war.  He lets his troops degrade and harass their hostages when they take them.

That’s only egged on by the belief that anyone can come back from the dead again and again. When there’s no bad ending, why not take more risks? Why not push it further?

This has some potential to be a really sick game, if Vehlmann wants to push it further.  He does play with it near the end of this volume with one character.  We’ll need to wait for the next book, at least, to see how that plays out.



The Campton kids go out tagging, but they're starting out way behind

The big event in this book is the division of the city.  Saul figures that if he “tags” buildings with a little graffiti, they’re his.  It’s time for the two groups to either come together and share in the spoils — under Saul’s leadership, of course — or fight it out to split things up.

So begins a game to divide the city in half.  Grab your paint guns and spray the buildings that are “yours.”  The race is on.  The action begins.

Saul’s team plays for a particular kind of “keeps” and our group falls behind fast, leading to some desperate measures that backfire.

Then things get worse (again)…

Without spoiling it, there’s a chase scene through the town at the end unlike any other in the book so far.  Vehlmann does a good job in creating these action scenes without getting repetitive, and all the while ramping up the danger each time.  That keeps the reader on their toes.  The trick is not to go so far that it gets preposterous.  Some people might think that of this one, but I like to think of it more as an extreme played almost slightly for laughs in true action movie style.

It’ll be interesting to see how he tops it in future volumes.

But that leads to a larger point and a strength to Vehlmann’s writing: He knows that this is a visual medium and goes out of his way to make sure even the most thoughtful of moments has a visual component to it.  A simple talking heads scene is set in an interesting location or ends on a bit of action. Bruno Gazzotti runs with it every time, too.  There’s not a bad drawing in the book.


Alone v6 cover by Bruno Gazzotti

Yes, absolutely.  This is the start of a new cycle, where the lessons learned in the previous volume start things off in a new and more dangerous direction. Jewel-clad rhinos are one thing; fending off gangs of punk kids with a self-righteous hatred of you is worse.  Things are more serious now, and the answers to earlier questions have only led to bigger questions.

— 2018.90 —


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Bonus Panel

Dodzi doesn't trust Saul. Of course not. Saul shot him.

Experience is the best teacher.

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