Season of the Snake (#1 – 3) – Serge Lehman

3 out of 5

This is genius.

(But… what?  I mean – I totally get it.  You get it, right?  It’s genius.  It’s gotta be.)

(Okay.  So I don’t get it.  I had a grasp, and then I totally lost it, though imagery brings to mind Morrison’s The Filth – and there’s certainly a sense of that writers reality-wrapped-around-reality structuring – and there’s an overall literary, jumbled approach that absolutely calls to mind Moore, and with both of those writers you can sit back in confusion but still enjoy the read; then ponder, come back, come away with some ideas… and maybe still be confused, but at least you tried.  Let the smarter internet folk write out analyses to nudge us along after the fact.

Alas, Lehman – the bright mind behind Masked and The Chimera Brigade – more than likely won’t be getting any English think-pieces (i.e. in a language I can read) regarding Season of the Snake, but those previously translated works, also from Titan, give me full faith in this guy, and his ability to do the compressed world-build shuffle with the best of ’em.  Snake certainly pushes that to a goddamned extreme, creating and re-creating and destroying entire cultures and their religions and philosophies in 3 oversized issues, with ridiculously sprawling and yet comprehensive illustrations from Jean-Marie Michaud.

The gist is there: “intersection 55,” a nexus for beings to meet, download information, and depart, guided by human “servos,” one of which vaguely serves as our initial narrative tether – this being his first day of work at the intersection – this intersection is being attacked by some mystery rebels, who are promoting dissent in the form of freedom of expression, which ends up being splashed across the page in very literal color.  But this isn’t, exactly, a lameass dytopia with art or creativity being the cure to oppression: the intersection seems to work, and to have brought people together fairly positively, even if there is a certain amount of structure and formalism guiding things.  This color – this snaking-into-things rebellion – is sincerely disruptive, causing bursts of emotion which can result, sure, in free love and boobs, but also in violence.  Lehman doesn’t exactly seem to be offering a direct lesson here on anything, just – as with those other works – crafting an idea and then exploring it.  The idea is just, like, massive this time, and it’s a bit of a challenge to get through for that reason.

Scenes are stitched together effectively, considering how many vignettes we step through, but as soon as one BIG idea is introduced, and we get a grasp on it, and it becomes equally amusing, and interesting, and thrilling, we’re on to something else.  Is it tied together?  It… it has to be, but it doesn’t always come across that way, especially as we move into the third issue, which is where Lehman jumps into the mystic deep end and starts dropping revelation after revelation which seem to make sense to the characters but become lost to a reader like me, amidst byzantine panel layouts and bizarre imagery.

But I have no doubt of the genius herein.  I also cop to not being able to offer a single fig as to what’s ultimately going on.  I also am ready to read this again, and to do that pondering thing… )