Comic Review: Savage Highway
Publisher Website: Julia Verlanger (Author), Mathieu Masmondet (Author), Zhang Xiaoyu (Artist)
Post apocalyptic Paris with some severe twists and sci-fi epics involved. Will leave you seriously wanting so much more.
Hints of: Walking Dead and Left Behind
Warning: A rape scene or two
An ancient highway spans the wasteland. Its cracked surface has become a migratory route for the lawless hunters and marauders who inhabit this desolate, future Earth. Along the highway, Helene, an educated young woman on a perilous mission to rescue her sister, meets Mo, a solitary hunter, and Jin, an Asian warrior. Together they embark on an epic journey to a Paris in ruins, where a new social “order” is being forged…
When I first started this comic book journey for G&T I thought it would be a bunch of superhero books and some corny funnies from newspapers of old. I have severely underestimated this genre of literature and am loving every second of it. From Y: the Last Man, to Locke and Key, and Saga, this genre is so much more than capes and fighting crime. Its the same stories and imaginative writing that you get from any paperback or novel with no pictures. I thought I was going to be taking the easy road with this blog where I talk about the history of the hero and what the author was thinking about when they decided what power to give them. Or even my thoughts on the probability of someone not being able to actually recognize Superman when he puts on a nice suit and glasses...come on.
I'm getting off topic here.
I have been surprised with the storytelling I have found in many comic books and this one is no exception. I think honestly the reason I wanted to take the time to show my appreciation for comics with this story is because it is truly great and the ideas and concepts are not some cheesy superhero novel or latex cheap trick writing and artistry.
L'Autoroute Sauvage or Savage Highway in its English translation, is a book written by Eliane Grimaître (1929-1985) under the pseudonyms Gilles Thomas. This novel was released 15 years after Grimaître's death in somewhat of a mysterious fashion. Gilles Thomas was another pseudonym used by Grimaitre, the other being Julia Verlanger. Verlanger was the more notable of the two nicknames and is now the name of an award given in France for science fiction or fantasy novels.
We find ourselves in a post apocalyptic world on an island of the coast of France. Raiders have come to attack the home of a father, his two daughters, and a boyfriend. The father tells the children to run and hide in the catacombs beneath the foundations of the home and they do initially until the youngest daughter demands she go back and help her father fight off the pirates. There are far too many however and her father is overwhelmed and she herself is taken captive by the raiders off the island to who knows where. The daughter (Helene) and her boyfriend continue to flee and we do not meet up with her until later when our quest to rescue her younger sister begins.
The highway Helene is bathing beside when she is happened upon by a group of seedy characters is from a scene straight out of Mad Max. Lawless, treacherous, and if you're alone you might as well be dead. As the men approach her, Helene is saved by Mo, a strong man who barely speaks and basically immediately starts groping Helene for pleasure once he saves her from the first group of awful men. Classic. However Helene stops him and tags along with him for protection continually trying to convince her new mute friend to help her find her lost sister.
We meet our last character when Helene and Mo are in a particularly perilous position surrounded by foes on all side until a ninja like warrior, Jin, appears and kills all. With this we continue our journey, at the behest of Jin to turn back, towards Paris.
Once they arrive in Paris we find that a group of men has control over the city which is rot with decay and pollution. Under the Eiffel Tower is where the men keep the women they acquire along the highway. One such woman is Helene's sister, another is a woman she met earlier in life who happens to be pregnant with one of her captors. Helene's sister is suffering from Stockholm syndrome and is knocked out by Mo so they can properly escape. The pregnant woman knows how to get out through a secret passageway in an abandoned room. Once inside the room something appears and a video is played. The reveal actually shocked me surprisingly and I'm a sci-fy kind of guy. The reason the world is post-apocalyptic is because generations prior, humans abandoned earth and her resources for a cleaner healthier planet amongst the stars. Helene, Mo, Jin and the rest were the descendants of those left behind, forgotten, the poorest most likely in the society. Now forced to defend themselves in this lawless planet, surviving without structure, government, or care for humanity as it left it to its own devices. This reveal is shocking to all the characters in the room as well who assumed something terrible had happened that wiped out civilization, not the selfishness of their own species.
This comic book ends with a few more twists that I wont reveal because its too good. But lets just say you'll end this book thinking theres more only to realize its like a bad decision by the network to cancel the best show after one season on a giant cliffhanger and theirs nothing you can do about it.
In this essay I'll discuss why Flashforward, the hit thriller from ABC, was going to be the next LOST on prime time television...
Seriously though, pick up this book and fall deep into it.
Drink Pairing: The Black Rose. Described as one of the most fun French cocktails to make and something that the mixer "couldn't stop making". I thought this sounded like the perfect drink because its been 3 weeks since i finished this book and I CAN'T STOP THINKING ABOUT IT. Its simple, yet profound. The twist is easy once you think about it but shocking still somehow.