Παρασκευή, 18 Μαΐου 2012

What I think about Stuff-The Metabarons Retrospective, Part 5



 
Part 5-Nameless the Aggravating and Unsung Heroes.

DISCLAIMER: This article deals with a series of inconsistencies in the Metabarons narrative and may contain spoilers from the Incal series. If you find yourself becoming frustrated by this, then take a deep breath, relax and cease your mental processes.


The Nameless Metabaron is a strange, strange case. First of all, he is the very character that this series led to and the Ultimate Metabaron. He’s also a recurring character from the Incal series, which played a significant role in saving the Universe in its entirety. Yet he doesn’t appear in the actual Metabarons series in the flesh.


Except for that one time, when he attempts to kill his robot slaves for some bullshit reason.


To make matters worse, Nameless is the kind of character YOU NEVER GET TO KNOW. He’s kind of like the main characters in some shitty made anime, who’s mysterious and badass and awesome and kills a ton of people and blows shit up and makes the fangirls’ panties disintegrate when he shows up in the frame and you’re 17 therefore you don’t know any better so you think that this is what great characters are supposed to be like but then the series ends because that’s what the Japanese do sometimes and you never learn anything except that this guy doesn’t die and kills shit and you end up hating this kind of character and then you realize that EVERY SINGLE GODDAMN COMIC BOOK AND SERIES YOU OWN has this exact kind of bullshit character in there, so you burn them all in a drum barrel and your heart shrivels until it’s just a lifeless little piece of flesh inside your chest barely beating, pumping bile up into your brain, turning you into a cynical bastard that nitpicks everything and everyone thinks you’re a troll trying to spoil everyone else’s fun, when the only thing you really need is a good book and a hug.


And um…guns. Guns with tits on them. ‘Cause that’s how men deal with shit!

I originally hated Nameless for this exact reason. I liked him when I first read the Metabarons but as the years went by and I realized that Jodorowsky was going to pull a LOST on me and just pile up question upon question without bothering to give me some answers, I turned my back on him as fast as possible and decided to ignore him.

Until I read the Incal, that is


This scene makes much less sense if put in context.

The Incal is a glorious space opera set in the Jodoverse that’s part comic book, part Doors music video and part tantric sex exercise with a gigantic bullshit conspiracy theory concerning some occult underpinnings about its layout, which I shall go into detail in another retrospective.


Pinky promise.

What’s important is this: canonically, Nameless’ first appearance was in a comic book that was printed in the 80’s and took place several decades AFTER the events of the Metabarons series, which in geekspeak makes this series a prequel. HOWEVER, a series of inconsistencies in the narrative of the two series (and glaring ones at that) proves that these series aren’t in fact chronologically tied together, despite the fact that they’re set in the same universe.

For example, Nameless’ first appearance is not treated as a pants-shitting moment (like every other appearance of every other Metabaron in the series, never mind this guy WHO KILLED SPACE WITCHES WITH HIS MIND WHEN HE WAS AN INFANT). Instead, nobody even recognizes him, except for a select few in the higher echelons of the Imperial Hierarchy and some other weirdos.


He’s this indy alternative mass-murderer in the service of the Emperoress? I’m not surprised you’ve never heard of him.

These inconsistencies obviously became apparent while Jodorowsky and Gimenez were halfway into the Metabarons saga, which forced them to pull a setting 180 and suddenly reveal that Nameless is from another universe (the one the Metabarons originated from) and that he travelled to the Incal universe (which is parallel to his own), in order to save it.

That’s all well and good, up until while I was reading the Incal, I realized that the Metabaron never left its universe (which was presented as the only possible one without any parallels whatsoever), which he obviously did at some point, so he could return and rain horrifying exposition on Tonto and Lothar (and by extension, the reader).

Everybody got that? Great! Time for me to blow shit up.
WHAT? HOW? WHEN DID THIS-HOW DID THIS-

Okay. There’s no other way I can present this so it makes sense, so spoilers:

In the Incal, the Universe is being slowly devoured by the Darkness, a primeval force of pure evil. The Metabaron and a select few are the only ones who can stop it (they don’t quite make it) and it kills most of the people in the universe in the process. This has obviously already happened in Nameless’ universe of origin. Which means that nobody’s alive there.

Except that Tonto and Lother meet perfectly living planetfulls of beings during their tale right after this exposition, which means that the Darkness is either a shitty exterminator or that Jodorowsky just went “Meh, nobody important is gonna notice” and ignored his own continuity.


Actual quote.

Now that we’re done with the confusion, let’s get into the man that the whole damn article’s about, Nameless himself!


Fuck yeah, Nameless!

Nameless makes his first appearance in Issue #1, when Lothar inquires Tonto about his master’s deformity, thus presenting the great tradition of Metabaronic initiation


The only documented cases of justified child abuse in fiction, except that time when King Joffrey gets *SPOILER*.

Note that this is the only piece of backstory we get from Nameless up until the end of the series, which helps build up the mystery around this character. Another interesting thing to note is that Aghora doesn’t bother going too much into making a spectacle out of hirs son’s maiming. After all, Nameless proved his worth in battle mere hours after he left hir womb. This is mostly used as juxtaposition compared to every other Metabaron, driving home the point that Nameless is the last and greatest of his line.

After that, Nameless appears only as a Bio-Electro-Gram, an electronic automaton with a limited AI, imprinted with some of the memories of the original Metabaron, used as a defense measure for the Metabunker in the course of the series.


And a brief respite to the torrent of verbal abuse heaped upon Lothar by his diminutive boyfriend.

The only other time we get a hint to his backstory is when his BEG beats the everliving shit out of Lothar for having the audacity to inquire the cause behind Nameless’ scar on his eyebrow, the only hint at any sort of weakness on his behalf and a constant of this character since his appearance in the Incal.

It’s later on, about halfway through the series, when Nameless reappears, drops the Exposition Bomb on their heads, explaining how his robot slaves are the only beings privy to this knowledge, then says:


After centuries of abuse, Lothar’s finally been turned into a submissive little bitch.

And then he blows the fuck out of the Metabunker and we don’t see him again until he’s born (goddamn this sentence confused the shit out of me for a second there). Oh wait, he gets a line in between:


“Oh, a prerecorded message. That’s odd. It appears to be Tonto, calling me a goddamn hypocrite over and over again in binary. I shall cherish this.”

I am told that Nameless’ tale goes on for a while after this and does give some closure, as well as hint at a completely different, entirely new series, based solely on Nameless’ exploits after the events of the Incal and the Metabarons which was, of course, never made. For all intents and purposes, this retrospective’s presentation of Nameless’ tale is done, at least until I get my hands on those precious last installments of 9 (Ennea).

As Nameless blows the Metabunker into space dust, Tonto uses the bullshit space witch powers he picked up from Onorata (exactly how he did this or the fact that he’s a 500-year old robot with psychic powers is never mentioned again) to save both his hide and Lothar’s. He does this by teleporting randomly light years away, to an unimportant little backwater planet somewhere among the stars, populated by dinosaurs.


Apparently Tonto’s teleportation settings are set to ‘Locate coolest shit in the sector’.

There, the two of them fend off the local fauna and start their century-long task of building another Metabunker, because there’s no one left alive worth talking to and they’re robots, therefore got shit better to do with their time until the radioactive half-life of their radioactive cores ends, apparently.
 

Just a couple thousand years, Lothar. Then we can die and be done with all this horse shit once and for all.

Now I keep mentioning about the dysfunctionality of this robotic couple, but that’s actually their best, most memorable characteristic. These characters work exactly because they’re like Laurel and Hardy, only if Laurel and Hardy were a gay couple who were stuck together on a desolate rock in the middle of a dying universe and had grown tired of each other’s company after the first couple of decades.

Let’s take a look at the characters individually, shall we?

On the one hand, there’s Tonto. Tonto’s the Castaka’s bottom bitch, their most faithful servant since the days of Othon Von Salza. He’s seen the greatest warrior in the Universe killed and replaced by another, more powerful, crazier warrior. 


Metabarons come and go, Young Metabaron slays the Elder and I keep on paddling.

This guy has seen them all born, raised, going through their personal hells, rising to power and then falling. He’s seen organic life at its highest and its lowest. He’s borne witness to a series of increasingly dramatic calamities befalling his native universe one by one and at the end of this glorious life, what’s his reward?

To wait for his master (who’s been gone for nearly a century according to the series’ first issue) and care for his manchild of a companion, Lothar. This is why, after careful consideration, I have come to the conclusion that Tonto, sometime before or during the series, went insane. Not the ‘Haha, pow pow’ kind of insane, no. I’m talking about the ‘You’re all a bunch of maggots and I’ll systematically exterminate every last one of you the minute I get to the root of bypassing my programming’ kind of insane. 


“What was that, Voices? Bathe in the blood of organic children you say? What a refreshing idea!”

On the other, there’s Lothar. Lothar is the polar opposite of Tonto in every way that matters. He’s a lumbering, huge brute with the attention span of a cucumber,


Visual representation

the patience of a ten-year old and possibly programmed as a deterrent to Tonto’s encroaching madness. Despite his many flaws, he is essentially the agent that brings about the telling of this saga by Tonto and one of the funniest characters in the series. What’s also intriguing is how, later on, when his original body gets smashed, he builds a newer, stronger and much more powerful body, which he immediately uses to pay Tonto back for every bit of abuse he ever received in his hands and then some.


Imagine this as the equivalent of beating your wife, then waking up one day only to find out that she’s suddenly a Terminator.

When I was younger, I honestly could not see the point to these two and thought that they simply wasted space in an otherwise awesome series. But now that I’m older, I understand exactly what these guys are: they’re wave breakers, little deterrents that ease the story into your mind, by breaking the epic into smaller pieces that are far easier to digest.

Keeping in mind my metaphor of how this series is a five-course meal, Tonto and Lothar are the cheep little herbal cigar you light up and occasionally puff between dishes. And it does wonders toward helping you cope with this hefty feast.


The kind you light up right away and start puffing at, so people won’t think you’re holding a turd between your lips.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the conclusion to the Metabarons Retrospective on my behalf. Note that this is only temporary, at least until I get my hands on the remaining issues and pay this series the respect it deserves.

You might think, after reading these articles that the series is silly. That it’s a dumb little space opera with only impressive artwork going for it and little else, but this is not the case.

What the Metabarons is is a space opera of insurmountable magnitude that works like some kind of new-age sci-fi mythology. In many respects, it’s like the Hadron Collider:

It is an ambitious idea of staggering magnitude, it crashes new and interesting concepts together just to see what happens and most of all, it takes risks, the kind of risks few comic book creative teams dare take and I’m not just talking jetpack swords.

I’m talking about a series that has the balls to slap adult themes in your face using increasingly zany, hand-wavy means and you just sit there and you take it, because it’s just that good. Trust me, I may have grown cynical toward comic book series and stories in general, I may bitch and moan, but when Jodorowsky and Gimenez take the goddamn wheel, I shut up and listen. 

I suggest you do the same.


Sadly, despite its bitching cover art, the RPG version doesn't stand up to the challenge




Addendum:

Good news, Everyone! Apparently Humanoids Publishing, finally freed from the horrible yoke imposed on it by DC comics, is planning to reprint the series in the English language in 2012!
Which means that I can both finish the retrospective as God intended and you can buy the shit out of it, thus supporting an awesome series! Hooray for you guys!



                                                                                                       BUY IT NOW!

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