The World of Edena is the latest collection of Jean “Moebius” Giraud’s surreal sci-fi stories. They began as a promotional comic for the French car manufacturer Citroën and soon turned into a six-volume series. While the easy-on-the-eye simplicity of the art might trick you into thinking that the series is a children’s story, nothing could be further from the truth. Giraud invested this story with themes of living with nature, the destructive effects of technology, sexuality, and spirituality.
Atan and Stel are two human space travelers in the near future. Humans have adapted to an almost totally synthetic existence, which includes regular organ transplants and hormone suppressants to prevent gender differentiation. While exploring a strange world, they find themselves and many other stranded travelers transported to a paradise world known as Edena. Bereft of technology, Atan and Stel soon rediscover what it means to be human, even as they’re forced to fight against those who want to hang on to the old ways of doing things.
The art of the series is what Giraud referred to as ligne claire, which focuses on relatively few details in a given panel. This gives the art a certain sparseness, but it doesn’t detract from the fantastic details Giraud gives the world of Edena. Indeed, those details are made all the more brilliant by Giraud’s ability to hone in so closely to them. For 21st century readers, it has a deliciously retro bandes desinees aesthetic, but in this case, it wasn’t created for the fans. Fans of Hayao Miyazaki might see some familiar looking scenes here, which is no surprise considering that the two of them were friends. Indeed, Miyazaki admitted that Nausicaa was made under Giraud’s influence.
Some of the dialogue might come across as polemical, especially the conversations between Stel and Atan about how much better to it to avoid synthetic foods after they’ve lived on Edena for a while. To be fair, Giraud was really influenced by a Swiss raw food dietician, and some of it comes across a bit ham-handed now (har har). But it’s also worth remembering that we’ve subsequently internalized so many of these ideas about diet, including organic farming. Where the series really shines is the depiction of the other humans that Atan and Stel encounter. They absolutely refuse to give up on their old ways of living, and their stubbornness has trapped them into an incredibly uncomfortable way of living.
This is a well-established classic, and nothing I can say here will really change that. My only recommendation with this book would be to take your time with it because powering through it does a disservice to it. Read it over the span of a few days and savor it.
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Moebius Library: The World of Edena Writer/Artist: Moebius Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $49.99 Format: Hardcover; Print