cover image Orsay’s Hands (The Extraordinary Part #1)

Orsay’s Hands (The Extraordinary Part #1)

Florent Ruppert and Jérôme Mulot, trans. from the French by M.B. Valente. Fantagraphics, $29.99 (156p) ISBN 978-1-68396-684-5

Ruppert and Mulot (The Perineum Technique) continue two decades of comics collaboration with this visually fabulous, if narratively stilted, exploration of identity and activism. Orsay lives a mundane life in the French countryside, coexisting with “whols”—massive, gentle creatures that randomly appeared in recent years. After being attacked by a whol and gaining expansive, malleable whol-like abilities in his hands, Orsay meets extreme pro-whol activist Vicento and human-whol hybrids Melek and Juliette, who battle against the anti-fantastical-creatures government. Orsay grapples with the brutal methods they employ for their cause and circles a central question: What lengths should one go to defend their own kind? Mulot’s psychedelic renderings of the creatures and their interior spaces are captivating and uncanny, bringing striking contrast to an otherwise neutral color palette. But though the visuals astound, the narrative lacks depth. In its attempt to comment on pressing contemporary issues, the script relies on choppy dialogue and overly manufactured character development. This beautiful if unbalanced allegory is at its best when exploring the self through visual metaphor, slowing down the overt messaging. Still, it will appeal to fans of David B. and other inventive Euro cartoonists. (Feb.)