Book Review: Desolation (Graphic Novel, Europe Comics, 2021)



Appollo, Gaultier

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I only picked up this comic due to the striking art on the cover, I honestly did not even know what the story was before I started reading.

Read all in one sitting, it is a most fascinating tale and I’m not sure how much to give away in the review without spoiling it – a hard choice for anyone reviewing any story. But I will try.

Our tale takes place on the high seas and at the end of the Earth. There is no hero in this story in my view, but our primary character/narrator is a man named Jean-Louis Payer. He has in fact changed his name to Evariste (which he considers more interesting) who has left his home, sold his possession and without telling family or friend, has boarded a ship called the Marion Dufresne bound for the Kerguellen Islands, a frozen waste at an extreme end of the known world – where a scientific station and an old abandoned whaling station are all that is to be found. One of the last places on the planet that are almost completely untouched by the influence of modern mans world. Desolation indeed.

Our protagonist is in fact running away from his previous life, disillusioned after a breaking up with his love and feeling ennui with the world at large. On his way he ponders his existential crisis alongside that of all his fellow passengers – a motley group they are through and through – and the artwork is fantastic in that after not striking me as terribly interesting in the beginning, it takes on a new nature. The art style does not change, but as the journey by sea carries on, the artist brings a starkness and melancholy to the panels, a lonely and disconnected feeling that is hard to avoid. The story thereafter progresses to their final destination where the experience shifts and changes and our characters all have a new set of experiences – leading to Evariste facing a whole new set of challenges both internal and external. Base human nature, instincts and feelings are all explored and it is all very raw and striking – much like the stark landscape in which our story is set.

On the whole I find it is a story that started in an unusual way and then thereafter it continues to move and flow through a narrative that surprised me more than I expected, right until the end and I mean that in the most positive way possible. It is not always an easy story to read, but fascinating nonetheless.

An unexpectedly intriguing find and one that I would very much recommend to anyone who found the basic concept even a little interesting.

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