Stranger Picks: Satania

Satania – Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoët

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Charlotte (Charlie to everyone but her family) is looking for her missing brother Christopher who disappeared after an expedition to prove his unique theory about the existence of Hell. Christopher believed  Hell was populated by real humans who migrated deep into the earth and evolved to suit the changing climate. With an expedition group of her own, Charlie embarks upon a harrowing journey to find her brother and bring him home, no matter the cost. The deeper they go, the more their stories unfold. As they discover one world after another, hunt for Christopher, and forget the above world, one truth still remains. They are not alone and may never have been.

The Premise

Like all journeys into the abyss, this story is about more than the quest. This tale is about fear, about fight, about the ability to face the demons nipping at your heels. As Charlotte plunges deeper into the earth, desperately searching for her brother, her past rears up, and she’s unable to do more than lose her temper and flee from it. The reason why her brother is searching for Hell is rooted in Charlie’s past, a past she refuses to acknowledge. She finds herself in more ways than she ever imagined, but she loses something else during her emotional and physical journey.

The Characters

Out of the whole character cast, only Charlie, Father Monsore, and Laverne are really defined. The rest of the team functions as bodies for when things really start going down. Charlie is so clear and direct as a character: her motives and ambitions are only to find her brother. She leads everyone further into Satania, making most of the major decisions, calling the shots when the rest of the expedition argues amongst themselves.

Even as she desperately tries to keep her team together and alive, all she can think about and focus on is her missing brother. And during the times she’s not thinking about him, she’s thinking about her mother, locked away to rot in an asylum for claiming that she was raped by a demon.

Charlie has her own version of the truth and doesn’t judge her brother for trying to prove their mother’s story. But her mother’s words, the reasons as to why she’s so close to her brother, needle her throughout the journey. And even as Father Monsore tries to teach the Satanians English and give them Biblical demon names. Even as Laverne escapes from imprisonment by the Satanians. Charlie is still on the same track, her unwavering nature eventually taking her to the center of her brother’s disappearance. Out of everyone, Charlie is the most compelling, the most relatable, and the wildest.

The Art

This is Fabien Vehlmann’s & Kerascoët’s second comic together, and it’s as gorgeous as their first. There is no doubt that Satania is beautiful: one look at the cover or at any of the double spread pages can tell you that. The level of detail put into every little bit of the book is astounding. I couldn’t help but fall in love with Kerascoët’s art.

While the varied ‘Satanians’ are meticulously drawn, Charlie and the rest of the crew have simple but effective character designs. Interestingly, the complexity of the characters’ visual design is inversely related to the depth of the characters themselves: the simpler the character is drawn, the more complex their character is.

The cover of the book is indicative of the amount of detail there is throughout the story. The expanse of Satania in shades of red, the monstrous flying fish that eats Charlie and Father Monsore, and the very last ‘circle’ of Satania are all illustrated in lush detail. Kerascoët truly succeeds at bringing Vehlmann’s story to life.

Why You Should Read It

I’ve been waiting for Satania to drop for the past four months, eagerly awaiting another story by the team who brought to life the brutality of human nature in miniature in Beautiful Darkness. And Satania doesn’t disappoint. It dips its feet into another part of the human mind: madness. The desire to run from the past for the promise of a future, no matter how fragile it may be. It delivers in art, in Charlie and Christopher, in the sheer magnitude of the worlds it builds within itself. It’s a treat to own, to read, and just admire.

Satania was released on November 15, published by NBM Publishing.

Stranger Picks is a series of comic book recommendations led by one of our  Nerds with a taste for weird stories. To keep up with this week’s pick, click here.   

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