Brazilian artist and writer Leo (Luiz Eduardo de Oliveira) continues his Worlds of Aldebaran saga with Antares Episode 5, the continuation of the third series of his incredibly alien tales of 22nd century interplanetary settlers and the beasts and plants they find on the worlds that they settle.
The Earth expedition to Antares 5, a mixture of scientists and members of an extremist religion, have watched in horror as animals and people have been disappearing in front of their eyes, their bodies being peeled apart before they vanish into thin air. When this happens to Kim Keller’s young daughter Lynn, Kim believes that Lynn is not dead but has been transported to the neighbouring planet Antares 4. Leading a rescue expedition to Antares 4 expecting to discover an advanced civilisation, Kim discovers that the planet appears to harbour no intelligent life just flora and fauna similar to those of Antares 5, however they do discover a mysterious small sphere that appears to have a life of its own. The religious zealot Jedidiah Thornton believes that this sphere will lead intelligent aliens to them and puts the rest of the team’s lives at risk in his attempt to be there when it happens.
Leo’s artwork here is as entrancing as ever. While his futuristic machines tend to be stylistically simplistic and his depiction of his human characters can seem static, it is the alien flora and fauna he presents that are always the highlights of these books. While Episode 5 gives us enormous an enormous ‘jellyfish’ high in the atmosphere and a feeding sky-whale, the ground life consists mainly of alien plants and insect-like creatures as the book emphasises how the expansive planet is devoid of the anticipated intelligent aliens.
Story-wise the obnoxious Jedidiah is the star with his determination to make first contact at the expense of the rest of the team, and this turns this episode, as in previous episodes, into yet another rescue attempt that leaves our heroes worse off that when they started for no apparent benefit. However when all seems lost both for characters and readers, Leo unexpected reintroduces a character from a previous book which sets the story off again.
Antares is the third in Leo’s Worlds of Aldebaran sequence of stories and the previous parts, Aldebaran and Betelgeuse both ran for five French albums each. While I had expected Antares to also run for five albums, I was aware from the previous episode that the story was not really progressing at any speed to a conclusion, and this book isn’t the conclusion – there will be at least one more episode of Antares, perhaps more given the largesse of the tale and the number of unresolved story points over this and the preceding four books. However given that Episode 6 is not even listed yet on Amazon France, when we will have the opportunity to read it in English is anyone’s guess.
I like Leo’s Worlds of Aldebaran tales and while I’m not blind to their weaknesses Antares Episode 5 continues this ongoing, if somewhat long, tale which just when it seems to be getting bogged down redeems itself with a twist that, as ever, makes me what to read the next book.
• There are more details of the Worlds Of Aldebaran series, Aldebaran, Betelgeuse and Antares on the Cinebook website
• There are more details of all Leo’s books on The Worlds Of Aldebaran website (in French)
• The downthetubes review of Antares Episode 1 is here
• The downthetubes review of Antares Episode 2 is here
• The downthetubes review of Antares Episode 3 is here
• The downthetubes review of Antares Episode 4 is here