Tripwire’s editor-in-chief Joel Meadows reviews Titan’s Legends Of Today by Pierre Christin and Enki Bilal…
Legends Of Today
Writer: Pierre Christin
Artist: Enki Bilal
After the late Moebius and Philippe Druillet, Enki Bilal is probably the most revered of European comic artists. Legends of Today reprints three of his stories collaborating with award-winning writer Pierre Christin in English for the first time.
The first tale, The Cruise Of The Forgotten, is a surreal allegorical story which opens with a 9 pager that introduces us to the enigmatic white haired figure who appears in all three of these tales. Bilal is a French citizen but he was born in the former Yugoslavia and he uses his work to satirise the land of his birth. The Cruise Of The Forgotten looks at a mysterious government conspiracy that causes buildings to fly off the ground. Bilal is the master of the fine line with his dramatic architectural flourishes and caricatured figureworks. Writer Christin works well in tandem with Bilal here.
The second story The Stone Ship covers similar ground to the first, looking at a redevelopment of a coastal town to allow more commerce and more tourism which is hindered by a mysterious magical figure who lives alone in a castle away from the town. Again Bilal manages to imbue it all with a sense of enigma and mystery and every figure here is dripping with idiosyncratic characterisation. Christin’s script is suitably satirical once again and The Stone Ship works better as a story than its predecessor.
The third and final tale, The City That Didn’t Exist, eschews any fantastical elements and deals with the machinations of unions and corporate greed with a company determined to build a huge new development to take the place of the older town. The mysterious white haired figure who we are introduced to appears to book end the three stories at the end here. In some ways, The City That Didn’t Exist is the most satisfying of the three as its more down to earth approach connects better with the reader. Bilal feels as home drawing ordinary street scenes as he does creating otherworldly settings.
Legends Of Today is very much of its time (all of the stories were created in the 1970s) but Christin and Bilal are a very talented team. It is also lovely to see this work in the oversized hardcover format. Titan have done a very good job of bringing this to English speaking readers for the first time. The larger size really makes Bilal’s work sing and allows us to appreciate the detail of his work. Legends Of Today is a quality reprint offering the best in European comic art.
Legends Of Today is out now from Titan Books