Diosamante is an ancient queen, beautiful and heartless. The book opens with her waiting, naked, for the victor of a savage contest. His prize is to be her lover for one year, until she rips his heart out and eats it. Her empire is a wild and wanton place where even rampaging barbarians fail to make a stir in the general populace. Everyone seems to be as self-centered and lust-driven as the mad queen. When her victor/lover dies in her arms, Diosamante throws up her hands in disgust and leaves her city.
Her epic journey then takes her to far-off lands, and eventually into the presence of king Urbal. One look at the mighty king and Diosamante is immediately humbled. She leaves, vowing not to return until she has become worthy of his love.
This is a good premise, one which is ripe with storytelling opportunities. Unfortunately Jodorowsky spends too much time on over-wrought narration and dialogue which makes a Spanish soap opera seem tame. spiritual mumbo-jumbo and contrived plots tangle together to make the book laughable in some places and excruciating in others. With a different approach, the story of Diosamante could have been an epic along the lines of Price Valiant, full of exotic locales and overwhelming odds. However the script falls flat and threatens to sink the book.
Jodorowsky fails to ever make the reader truly like Diosamante. While she definitely grows and strives to become a better person, she is always distant from the reader, held at arm’s length. Since the entire point of the book is her quest to make a connection with another person, it would be nice if she could make a connection with the reader as well.
Luckily, the art by Jean-Claude Gal more than makes up for the weak script. There is a reason why Jodorowsky addressed him so humbly. He truly is a master. Gal’s linework is superb. The backgrounds and buildings are rendered in such exquisite detail that any panel is worthy of close examination. Some of the larger panels and full-page spreads belong in a gallery.
Gal creates a world which is as terrifying as it is beautiful. Each chapter in the book takes place in a different, exotic locale giving Gal an opportunity to constantly surprise and delight the reader. The double-page spread of the massive ship in the final chapter is simply breathtaking and is worth the entire price of the book.
According to the release, this is Gal’s first and only color work. It would be an interesting comparison to see Diosamante in black and white. Much of the feel of each location is determined by the color palette used. While Gal infuses each scene with intricate detail, the color gives it a soul.
The epic of Diosamante was envisioned as a four book series. Sadly Jean-Claude Gal passed away before the second book was completed. There is no telling what amazing worlds he would have created. This collection contains the first book as well as the completed pages from the second. Jodorowsky includes an outline of the rest of the epic as well. There are also rough pages and some concept/design work which Gal used for the book.
Diosamante is a gorgeous book with an ugly script. However it is worth owning to see a master at his craft. If nothing else, Diosamante will encourage everyone to seek out other works by Gal and marvel at the talent on display.