Moebius’s works are most famous for their profound influence on comics-dom and the difficulty involved in actually finding any of them. Licenses have been dropped and mixed up, rights management is all over the place, and his chief English publisher, Humanoids, ridiculously prices these books, so they’re practically inaccessible to the people who would most benefit from it. When Dark Horse announced they were launching the Moebius Library, it seemed like things were heading in the right direction. Sure, the book is $50, but it’s also enormous and printed in an oversized format with great care and concern. It’s value is astronomical.
Written by Moebius
Illustrated by Moebius and Claudine Giraud, Domdom, Frayzic, Bernard Hugueville, Florence Breton, & Claire Champeval
Translated by Laure Dupont, Brandon Kandor, Diana Schutz, and Philip R. Simon
Working closely with Moebius Production in France, Dark Horse puts the work of a master storyteller back in print-with some material in English for the first time! Stel and Atan are interstellar repairmen trying to find a lost space station and its crew. What they discover about the universe and themselves on the mythical paradise planet Edena, though, changes their lives forever. Moebius’s long-out-of-print World of Edena story arc gets a deluxe hardcover treatment, with its five main chapters-Upon a Star, Gardens of Edena, The Goddess, Stel, and Sra-collected here!
In many ways, “The World of “Edena” is like a survey course on everything Moebius. Composed between 1983 and 2011, the book stretches through a good portion of the artist’s career , the individual episodes reflecting where he was with his art at the time. It features the elements, motifs, and themes that commonly popped up in his work, including desert landscapes, metaphysical light shows, and the exploration of sex and gender. It may never reach the heights of “The Incal” or the sheer imagination of his short stories like ‘The Long Tomorrow’ or the Arzach anecdotals; it might be bloated and heavy, but it remains an experience. If you’re interested in seeing why Moebius was such an influence, you don’t need to look much further than this.
The entire Edena cycle started, as Moebius states in the introduction, when he was commissioned by Citroën to contribute to a promotional campaign aimed at the company’s sales team. The tale grew in the telling and instead of a short little novelty story, we’re given this 350-paged behemoth.
There’s this strong desire for the natural and organic all throughout “The World of Edena.” There’s the fear of conformity and synthesization you see in the work of science fiction creators who grew up throughout the Cold War era. And it’s these two ideas that really push the book forward. It starts with two pilots — Stel and Atan — who are investigating the disappearance of a space station crew near an asteroid. They end up crashing and set off in a Citroën car to search for the crew (can’t forget the story’s commercial origins) but they end up instead at a massive pyramid. There they find a group of people living around the base of the pyramid and worshipping its power, and waiting for it to do something. Turns out, the pyramid had been waiting for the perfect pilot to come take it over. Before they know it, Stel, Atan, and the rest of the group are whisked off to parts unknown.
Except it’s not over yet. Stel and Atan are put into this cryogenic sleep by the spaceship, waking up like a thousand years after blast off and find themselves deposited on this luscious new world. Eventually they encounter the descendants of the original travellers, who under the malicious guide of The Paternum, they have made this dystopian hive society which, of course, must be overthrown.
The first half of “The World of Edena” is the far more interesting segment. Moebius was less in a rush to get to one weird set piece or another, so we get this calm and exploratory comic. It’s fascinating because Moebius is so fascinated with the world. It speaks to his skills as a cartoonists that he’s able to make these scenes so captivating. As they wander around the world, Atana (formerly Atan) and Stel drink the water and eat the fruit from around the garden. Gradually their bodies start to change; they develop sex and identity. Their personalities become far more distinct as they purge themselves of their synthetic forms. So of course they would go on to become the god and goddess of this world. So of course they would go on to save everyone.Continued below
It’s here we get to see the most majestic of Moebius’s visuals. He was an artists constantly drawn to the desert, never presenting it as a dead and barren place, but rather one teaming with life and potential. His work is always impressive when he goes cosmic and operatic — with floating orbs and exploding particles — but it’s just as engaging and engrossing when a character stands facing an open horizon. He takes a linge claire style, with thinner lines and less hatching and the open spaces in the figures and designs gives the story an even wider breadth.
That’s not to say that the second half of “The World of Edena” is terrible or anything. Moebius develops more of a plot here and a set of action sequences. The back half is more adrenaline-inducing, I guess. The story does become far more bleak and hopeless, but we have to remember the Moebius who produced ‘SRA’ isn’t the same one who made ‘Upon a Star.’ By this point in the book, it feels like Moebius is spinning his wheels, isn’t quite sure where he wants to take everything next. The ending is a far cry from where the story started off and I’m not sure if the path it follows really stems from where it began.
But make no mistake: “The World of Edena” is an achievement (it’s almost an even bigger achievement to see it in a fully collected edition). Just from how much it covers — and how much of Moebius’s instincts and obsessions it covers — this might the most perfect introduction to his work. The visuals are enormous, definitely a spectacle, and the story presents its philosophical ideals with nice drama and conflict. It’s all his flaws and wonder combined within one spine.
Final Verdict: 8.0 – Concentrated Moebius.