cover image Metax


Antoine Cossé. Fantagraphics, $34.99 (300p) ISBN 978-1-68396-515-2

Cossé (Showtime) employs his signature watercolors to elevate a standard dystopian narrative in this dreamlike science fiction adventure. The city-state of Ronin is a tyrannical monarchy powered by metax, a miraculous substance that’s enabled Ronin’s rulers to enforce their military will. Metax also empowers a gang of masked rebels to wage guerilla war, changing their bodies into birds to escape the King’s police. But as Ronin’s supply of the substance dwindles, the King’s Engineer is marked for death by the regime he serves, and his rebel daughter Sabrina is driven to drastic action to save her family. Cossé tends to experiment with color in his work, but takes a different tack here: Sabrina and her father’s struggle plays out against an almost entirely gray-washed backdrop, with Cossé devoting nearly all of his attention to crafting shadows and extremely economical linework. Only when readers finally glimpse the miraculous metax in its true form does Cossé let the rainbow erupt onto the page, a catharsis that’s well crafted and narratively earned—even if the story itself, boiled down to its essentials, isn’t especially remarkable. Cossé’s visual creativity makes retreading familiar genre story beats a pleasure. (Feb.)