Chimera Brigade often gets shorthanded as a mix of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. And while there is an element of truth to this, Serge Lehman’s vision of an alternate super powered Europe is unique and inventive. Despite having the powers of superheroes, the characters are not that. They are too conflicted with themselves to be the shining ideal that American superheroes came to represent.
After the desperate drive to turn people into super weapons during World War I created people in every nation with superpowers. The strongest of them took control of their countries’ governments and use the lesser powered as spies and saboteurs.
As issue #3 opens, the European powers slowly edge toward another war and the super-powered people are also being drawn into alliances that will make the coming conflict even more horrible. In France, agents of The Eye and The Radium Institute continue to clash, trying to steal those with super powers from each other in and attempt to obtain ultimate control of the country.
While this is going on, George Spad, ostensibly independent, but being paid by The Eye, continues her investigation into the Radium Institute, aided by the voices of past lives. She tracks down a doctor who underwent treatments at the Institute while in a coma there for 16 years. Her interview in the park is interrupted when Cagliostro, a master of hypnotism and a member of the German Totenkopf, appears and mesmerizes the crowd; commanding they choke one another to death.
Like Alan Moore, Lehman (Masked, Metropolis) and Fabrice Colin draw from the pre-comic book pulp novels of Europe and America as the source for much of the elements his story, but he doesn’t directly pull characters from those novels and band them together. Instead he subtly references and shades his characters with elements of these sources. Multiple readings pay off as you can focus on different elements that add depth to these books.
Gess’ (L’Esprit du 11 janvier) art also reflect the sources of the time having strong Modernist elements throughout. His strong use of black and shadows reminds me of Alex Toth’s art. It always draws your eyes to the point he wants to make.
Writers: Serge Lehman & Fabrice Colin
Publisher: Titan Comics