cover image Social Fiction

Social Fiction

Chantal Montellier, trans. from the French by Geoffrey Brock. New York Review Comics, $24.95 (200p) ISBN 978-1-68137-740-7

Published together in English for the first time, this spiky collection of three science fiction graphic novellas from Montellier, one of the few women published in the famed French comics magazine Métal Hurlant in its heyday, makes a case for her place as one of the publication’s brightest creators. Drawn in the 1970s and early 1980s, Montellier’s comics take place in bustling, grimy totalitarian societies where, behind the omnipresent surveillance cameras, jumpsuited enforcers gripe about the daily grind. “Wonder City” follows prole musician Angie Parker, whose marriage to a genetic engineer allows her a glimpse behind the curtain at the ruling class’s eugenics plans. In “Shelter,” nuclear war turns a shopping mall into a bomb shelter, where an oppressive regime arises. “1996” is a collection of gritty, darkly funny vignettes anchored by a longer story, “So Fast in Their Shiny Metal Cars,” which features a bizarre, automobile-centered dystopia (vehicles dominate backgrounds, and a pile of wrecks make up an art installation where corpses are embalmed in their cars). Montellier’s firm line and punk ethos recall the early, science fiction–themed installments of Love and Rockets, but her vision is far bleaker, fueled by political rage, satirical wit, and a full-bore feminist drive. The anarchic sensibility feels both of its time and eerily prescient. It’s a thrilling introduction to an unmissable comics talent. (July)