Ian: Metanoia (Book Four) – Fabien Vehlmann

4 out of 5

Whether old Vehlmann – Ian was written in 2004 – or his newer work, I’m continually taken aback by how the writer is able to work in such heady material and huge plots in to these slim, European comic albums, and take “typical” sci-fi or fantasy elements and not necessarily rewrite them, but refresh them with a perspective and tone unique to the writer. Ian has been a rush leading up to this point, and has fanned my fanboy flames of those positive critiques, grappling with “what makes a human a human?”-type questions that would’ve been ahead of the curve at the time of writing, but are still sharply posed, even now. There was a lot to tackle, going in to this final volume – government conspiracies; an enhanced bogeyman out for Ian; Ian as enemy-of-the-state; Ian’s hallucinations – and though I do question if some of this could’ve been streamlined, I’m still gobsmacked by how effectively Vehlmann not only wraps things up, but delivers an emotional wallop at the same time.

On the one hand, I will admit to some disappointment over one of the reveals; the way this steamrolls into the final chapter sort of reminds me of Jodorowsky’s way of plotting, in which characters just jump onto entirely different worldviews at the drop of a hat, but then the book’s title is telling of that, in a way… and Fabien inserts a new character that helps to balance out some of that (slickly replacing the grounding nature of the SRS team, who’ve disappeared from the story…); and, ultimately, as the story was able to communicate its giant ideas effectively and make me question my thoughts on the matter with its last pages, I have to applaud the overall story.

A pretty brilliant, hyper-compressed sci-fi epic.