Shangri-La: live work to buy

"And God said," Let us make man in our image, to our likeness, and rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, on the cattle, on all the wild beasts and on all the reptiles that crawl upon the earth. " [...] God saw what he had done, and behold, it was very good. And it was evening and it was morning: sixth day. "
Verses 26 and 31 of the first chapter of the Book of Genesis concern the creation of man and the pleasure of God in the face of the completed work. These brief passages of the biblical narrative give way to human history, first in the Garden of Eden, therefore, irretrievably broken the covenant with the Creator, in the chaotic landscapes of the Earth.
Mathieu Bablet , author of the script, drawings and colors of Shangri-La , makes men wear the shoes of God, after they themselves have destroyed their home planet.


Shangri-La: live work to buyAfter the " great catastrophe of the 21st century ", homo sapiens sapiens had to leave his home, seeking salvation in a colony, giving life to a self-perpetuated society with a perfect appearance, enclosed within the solid and (little) reassuring borders of an orbiting space station. Controlling people within a circumscribed perimeter is easier, according to the thesis supported by the Tianzhu Enterprises that govern the new world.
The so-called "time of God" and "time of man" coincide, marked by the words of the multinational god: living, working, buying, sleeping, loving, repaying, throwing, buying ...
But the long hand of Tianzhu does not crush only the workers who at the end of the day rest in their niches in the shape of the letter F ; it even reaches Shangri-La, an area extending near the Titan equator. The area, the target of terraforming, has been chosen to host the homo stellaris , the creation ex nihilo , the jackpot of man who plays to be God.


This second genesis is only one of the topics covered by Bablet in his sci-fi work. Although the setting is alien and the temporal collocation involves the future, the author does not hide the numerous criticisms of the society in which we live.
Shangri-La , therefore, looks like a busy and challenging comic , starting from the methods used to express the denunciation of consumerism, genetic experimentation, fanaticism and abuses against minorities. In fact, the slogans and the effect phrases are accompanied by dialogues full of arguments as solid as didactic. The concepts are repeated several times and sometimes are redundant, although the firm position of the artist is appreciable.
In particular, his voice seems to resonate, at least initially, in the words pronounced by the Resistance, a clandestine organization that seeks to oppose the excessive power of Tianzhu. Subsequently, however, a cacophonous note creeps into the score, coinciding with the so-called gattopardesco spirit familiar to the readers of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa .
The famous step " if we want everything to remain as it is, everything must change ", often paraphrased with the tautology " change everything because nothing changes ", is well suited to the true soul of the revolution. The goal is not to start from scratch after the upheaval, but to subtract the power from those who possess it to exercise it in the same way.

Shangri-La: live work to buy

The protagonist is Scott Péon, an employee of Tianzhu, initially so short-sighted as to believe that man has reached the maximum degree of freedom right in the space station. Shaken by his brother Virgile, Scott reveals himself as a dynamic character, but not strong enough to assert himself on the supporting actors. In fact, John is the one who hits the reader, not a human being but an animoid. After condemning the Earth, plants and animals, the man felt the need to create hybrids in the laboratory: animals with the word, walking in a standing position and even feelings.
Personification of the whole species, John suffers, resigned, continuous acts of bullying by the superior race. Here Bablet screams his indignation: we are always looking for a scapegoat, a vent valve, a weakness on which to affirm our superiority. Moreover, in a particularly agitated sequence, animoids become allegories of foreigners accused of stealing work from "natives".
To all this, how does the multinational god react? The total separation of the government is surprising, but motivated. Tianzhu does not intervene in defense of the marginalized and does not care about the rebellion. Why resort to violent repression when it is possible to kill the soul?


Bablet gives shape to its solid and destabilizing science fiction , playing with the colors distributed in large tables, embellished with a dynamic modulation of the grid. The ocher and the brown characterize incipit and explicit of the story, both set in the planets of the galaxy under the banner of the circularity of the fabula ; the acid yellow invades the narrow corridors of the station and the space ships; red and purple rule the comparison between Scott and Tianzhu. 
While various shades of blue and gray heighten the feeling of claustrophobia caused by closed and vertically developed environments (as is usual for science fiction influenced by the vision of Ridley Scottin Blade Runner ), the freedom of open space is concretized by the use of realistically bright colors. 
The splash-pages , often silent, look like sharp photographs taken by an orbiting satellite in the Milky Way. On the same wavelength are placed the natural phenomena, immortalized in wide-ranging vignettes.
The chromatic richness does not match as much care in the variety of faces. The somatic traits, in particular the nose, are repeated, rendering the characters excessively similar, to the point that sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between them. To break this monotony the fluid movements of the bodies are fundamental, since they are the most significant contribution to the successful acting of the actors.

Shangri-La: live work to buy

In the last, evocative sequence, the pounding critical voice is silent to give way to hope. It is a silent hope, instinctive, regressive, we could venture "sustainable", to stay in line with the mindsetof Bablet. Shangri-La is a comic book that invites the reader to reflect and take responsibility towards the Earth, its own kind, the flora and fauna on which the biblical God called it to dominate.
The limits highlighted - repetitive and didactical affirmation of concepts and reduced eclecticism in the representation of faces - do not excessively undermine a story capable of impressing oneself in the memory for the importance and the relevance of the themes dealt with and the visual charge of some tables.

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