Written by Bill Coffin
Imagine a far future universe decimated by war, and some of the only remaining survivors are a prison colony set adrift in deep space. Inhabited by generations of prisoners and their descendants and separated into three races—humans and near-humans, a race of telepaths, and a race of folks who can pass through solid material—this prison is a kind of pressure cooker locked in eternal conflict as the populations stuck within compete for room and resources.
This is the world of Khaal, human warlord supreme, and the top threat to peace. He rules through absolute brutality, constant combat, and the help of two secret allies who grant him superhuman powers. All around him are plans and plots to remove him from power, but so far, none of them have worked. One imagines none of them might ever work.
All this and more is covered in the opening issue of Khaal (January 2017), an ambitious French graphic series written by Louis, drawn by Valenin Sécher, and colored by Delphine Rieu. It is published by Titan Comics and offers a compelling showcase of talent and detail that is skillfully executed on all fronts.
There are points when the story trends too much toward exposition, but one imagines that might be a function of this being the first issue and trying to establish things. This might just be a function of translation, as the excess chattiness and explanation of things we see in Khaal is the same kind of thing I’ve seen in many other French comics. It might just be a French thing.
If so, it’s easily overlooked, because this is a fine comic from a clearly talented team looking to swing for the fences. Of greater concern is that of this book’s 32 pages, only 21 of them are actual story. The rest are credits, variant covers, etc.
Whatever comes next, though, if the title can maintain the energy, fit and finish of its first issue, this will be a story very much worth following.