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Factory #1 (Review)

Factory #1
Titan Comics, March 2018
Writer: ELGO

Factory is a new science fiction comic book series from Titan Comics (a comic book-focused subsidiary of British publisher Titan Books), with writing and art from French artist Yacine Elghorri. Elghorri, who produces work under the pseudonym ELGO, is known for his work in various films and cartoons, most notably the science fiction comedy cartoon Futurama. ELGO’s work is clearly from the same inspirational source as that of legendary writer/artist Moebius. There is a European aesthetic in play which evades American comic creators (save perhaps for Frank Miller’s avant-garde 1985 title Ronin).

Factory’s story is set in a fictional dystopian future that has been ravaged by an as-yet undisclosed event. Most of the life on the planet has been wiped out, leaving behind an unforgiving desert inhabited by dangerous, mutated creatures. What little is left of the people are either nomads (some of which are also irradiated and mutated) wandering the desert, or governed by a corrupt organization that hoards all of the good food, while giving scraps to the citizenry. This corrupt quasi-government is implied to have risen to power due to their possession of a precognitive mutant. The mutant is used to perceive potential threats well in advance, as well as to mollify the citizenry.

The comic drops readers in on the precognitive mutant dying, which sends the organization and its leader into a panic. Without the precog, there is a risk that the rulers will lose their stranglehold on the citizenry (noting that a rebellion will not be difficult to quell, seeing as people have no access to proper food, much less weapons.) Before dying, the precog delivers its last prophecy, about a dangerous pig man.

Factory then segues into a group of survivors wandering the desert and foraging for food. The group consists of a pair of brain-addled twins, a mutated man named Obaz, and a pig-man who claims to be a former human. The group come across a talking monkey that tricks them into eating a strange mutant fetus that triggers hallucinations among the group (not a sentence anyone expected to read today). There are subtle references to Journey to the West, though it is not clear if this is a one-off gag or an overarching theme.

Finally, the issue also features a silent, mysterious wanderer gifted with destructive powers, which are demonstrated on a bunch of guards seeking the stranger’s identification.

Factory #1 is an involved read. There are a lot of layers to the story, and ELGO makes no attempt to ease readers into the plot. Exposition is delivered at a bare minimum, only to make the story functional. The setting is extremely unfamiliar, and so far there are no characters with whom a reader can sympathize. It is a difficult story to pitch. Here is some of the promotional copy, quoted from website Nerdly:

In the new Factory comic series, Mad Max meets Fallout in a nightmarish vision of life on a dystopian planet. A band of mutants slog through the harsh deserts of a dystopian planet in search of The Factory – the last semblance of civilization left among the wasteland. Said series creator Elgo:

The first time I was published in the USA was in the magazine Heavy Metal. I was 22 years old… Years later and after working on movies and TV shows in Los Angeles I briefly worked for Marvel and IDW,” However, my French albums have never been translated into English. Today I am excited and happy to have the opportunity to be read by a wider audience thanks to Titan Comics. I hope that people will see something artistically attractive or interesting in the spirit of my mentor Jean Moebius Giraud.

Adds Statix Press brand manager Chris Thompson:

As a lifelong fan of Moebius, who was already familiar with Yacine’s work, it’s a privilege to finally bring Factory to the US market. At Statix Press we try to team international creators with artists that readers are already familiar with, which is why Simon Bisley was a no-brainer for this first issue cover. His stunning art complements Elgo’s, and gives fans an idea of what to expect from the series.

Reading the first five pages could be enough to make many readers drop the comic altogether. However, more patient readers will be rewarded: a more coherent and satisfying narrative starts to surface within the last few pages. It will be interesting to see where ELGO goes with the story.