Comic Book / The Great Power of Chninkel

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"Your fate has been determined, J'on... thanks to you the world will be at peace.
How excited you must be at the beginning of a new era, which will be the greatest of all."

Le Grand Pouvoir du Chninkel (alternatively known as The Great Power of the Chninkel, De Chninkel, Szninkiel, or Chninkel and the Great Might) is a comic by Jean Van Hamme and Grzegorz Rosinski. Published in 1986, the comic is an allegory of Christianity that deconstructs many of the tropes found in hero myths with a dark sense of humour.

In the story, the land of Daar is constantly ravaged by war as the three immortals battle for dominance. O'ne the Creator, tiring of this, grants former slave and chninkel J'on a Great Power in order to bring peace to the world. If Daar isn't tranquil by five sun-meetings, the world will be destroyed.

Le Grand Pouvoir du Chninkel was critically-acclaimed but did not sell as well Van Hamme's other works. The comic, originally in Belgian French, was translated into Polish (the illustrator's native language) and Dutch. It has yet to receive an official English translation, but fan scanlations can be found floating around the Internet.


Tropes:

  • Apocalypse How: Planetary. O'ne threatens a Class 5 or possibly a Class 6. A Class 4 happens, though a handful of tawals do survive... to become the ancestors of modern man.
  • Attempted Rape: A trio of kolds try to rape G'wel when she is a slave for speaking up before they're stopped by J'On.
  • The Chosen Zero: The Maelar Elders don't think too highly of J'on when they first meet him. He fully agrees, as he was told point blank by the Almighty Creator that he was chosen to be the Messiah because he just happened to be there. Ironically, this show of humility is what convinces most of his subsequent supporters that he is indeed the chosen one.
  • Creepy Crossdresser: Perfume-Jargoth. It's revealed later that he puts on perfume to mask the stench of his advanced leprosy, but that doesn't explain the lipstick or the women's clothes. The French original, however, makes it clear he and his race all are hermaphrodites.
  • Deconstruction: The comic deconstructs the hero myth, in particular the Messianic Archetype, and the Unlikely Hero tropes.
  • Deus Sex Machina: J'on must bring Volga the Soothsayer to orgasm in order for her to deliver a prophecy.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Volga by distance makes her amulet fall into acid.
  • Distant Finale: A serious contender for Most Distant Finale Ever as it shows how, after Bom Bom and some Tawals survived O'ne's rain of fire by taking refuge in deep caverns, it shows how life crawled back from the brink of annihilation by evolving back from single-celled organisms into complex lifeforms over hundreds of millions of years, up until the time where the Tawals' descendants, by then looking like early hominids (AKA modern humanity's ancestors), finally go out of their underground lairs... Only to see The Monolith that is O'ne and start worshipping it, while the narrator, actually the last of Bom Bom's descendants to remember the old stories, tearfully lament that J'on's sacrifice and the destruction of the old world was All for Nothing, as O'ne's return means that It will once again spread Its tyrannical notions of worship to what the reader now realises was Earth All Along.
  • Divine Intervention: The Almighty Creator gives J'on a Great Power.
  • Downer Ending: O'ne annihilates almost all life on Daar in a fit of rage, and eons afterwards no one will remember J'on's sacrifice.
  • Earth All Along: A "before the origins" variation. The planet Daar is in fact Earth around a billion years ago. After O'ne destroys almost all life out of spite for not being worshipped, life re-develops over the course of millions of years and the last Tawals (an ape-like race who barely survived the previous destruction) eventually become modern humans.
  • Elfeminate: The archers of Perfume-Jargoth are explicitly referred to by the text as "androgynous", too.
  • Eye on a Stalk: Volga the oracle is basically nothing but multiple eyes and mouths on stalks, attached to a blob-like body. She's a nice person, though.
  • The Fair Folk: The faeries of Mag Mel are traditionally mischievous, but not malevolent. They just pull their pranks for laughs.
  • Fantastic Racism: The chninkels are less than nothing to most other races.
  • Forever War: The three immortals are immortal, so Daar's war could go on forever. Unless O'ne nukes the place.
  • Forgiveness: The great power that O'ne has bestowed on J'on turns out to not be some sort of magic or great warrior skill, but the power of forgiveness. J'on uses it on all three of the immortals during his public execution, by proxy forgiving the tyrant king N'om—whose soul was split into the three warlords—for declaring himself god.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: Volga the Seer explains that she needs to have sex with J'on to be able to use her powers of foresight to help him with his quest. However, Volga is a writhing blob of flesh, tentacles, and multiple mouths and eyes, so J'on is understandably hesitant. However, she uses her magic to change both their forms to an athletic black man and a buxom white woman respectively so he's able to perform.
  • A God Am I: The great crime of the ancient Chinkel king N'om was to have himself worshipped as a god in place of the Almighty Creator god O'ne. The whole chinkel race has since been forced to live in bondage to atone for this and N'om himself was imprisoned in the interdimensional void and his soul split up into three immortal tyrants waging a Forever War amongst themselves.
  • God Is Evil: The Almighty Creator is willing to annihilate an entire planet and its life but not willing to just kill the three warring immortals Itself. O'ne actually does kill almost all life (save a few tawals living underground) by raining fire on the planet's surface. The reason? The heretic king N'om called It out on Its dickery and how everything was a conspiracy to make everyone worship It for all eternity. Though at the very least It kept Its promise not to destroy Daar.
  • Hobbits: The chninkels are a tiny, big-eyed, pointy-eared and vaguely humanoid people who have been enslaved by three immortals tyrants for centuries to wage war amongst themselves.
  • Interspecies Friendship: The chninkel J'on and the tawal Bom-Bom, and chninkel G'wel with Mag Mel's faeries.
  • It Sucks to Be the Chosen One: Invoked again and again throughout the story. J'on considers himself unfit for the role bestowed on him by God, has to travel half the world and nearly gets killed multiple times to fulfill his destiny, cannot consummate his love for his female companion G'wel, and is eventually executed by his own people. Even worse, the Almighty Creator saw him fit to die only so that it could attain eternal worship for itself.
  • Kill 'em All: Everybody dies except Bom Bom and some Tawals.
  • "Last Supper" Steal: A panel in the fourth chapter represents the chinkels impersonating The Last Supper from Leonardo da Vinci.
  • Medieval Stasis: Technology and architecture remains unchanged from even before the three immortals' advent.
  • Messianic Archetype: J'on is a deconstruction of the Messiah. He's the only survivor of the endless war that is being fought between three tyrants before he is tasked by God himself to free his enslaved species, the Chninkel, from bondage or it will destroy the world in three days. He's only picked to be the Chosen One because he happened to be in the right place at the right time and finds himself thoroughly unsuitable for the role destiny has seen fit for him. He ends up sentenced to death, when it turns J'on's sacrifice was all done for the sake of God's vanity to secure eternal worship. God destroys the world out of spite and J'on's story is lost to the sands of time.
  • The Mole: Ar'th. Whilst always having faith in J'on, Ar'th leads him to the kold stronghold after being captured and offered gold for bringing the Chosen One alive.
  • The Monolith: the creator god U'n appears in the form of a monolith. Or rather, since the end hints this comic was a prequel to 2001, U'n is the monolith.
  • Mostly Normal Animal: Bom-Bom the tawal. Though he can't speak, he picks up language easily and by the end of the book he's able to communicate the story of J'on to his descendants through simple sounds and hand gestures.
  • One-Gender Race: The kolds (male), amazons (female), and Mag Mel's faeries (female).
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: The kolds are a small, bearded, industrious people who produce metal weapons for the three warring armies in Daar.
  • Our Fairies Are Different: The faeries of Mag Mel have tails. They're also the daughters of a Starfish Alien instead of being spirits of nature.
  • The Quest: End all war on Daar or the entire world will be destroyed.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: The heretic chninkel king N'om gives O'ne a particularly scathing one, asserting that everything, from the time he blasphemed against the Creator, was a ploy to ensure everyone on Daar would worship It for all eternity. O'ne replies by raining fire on earth and wiping out almost all life.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Ar'th who sold Jo'n to the Kolds ends up being sent to the Immortal with him.
  • Screw Destiny: J'on, unsuccessfully, tries to duck out of his role as the Chosen One several times throughout his mission.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: According to Bom Bom's last descendant, J'on died for nothing. His death did not prevent the near-total destruction of the world by the Almighty Creator and even J'on's memory will be lost when he dies and the other Tawals/humans start worshipping the Monolith again.
  • Sex Magic: Volga the seer can only use her powers of foresight while having sex. This leads to a hilariously uncomfortable moment for Jo'on since Volga is a giant blob of arms and stick eyes. However, she alters both their forms to human first.
  • Shout-Out: U'N looks like the black monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. as it turns out, It acts in a very similar way towards the hominid descendants of the Tawals...
  • Time Abyss: The Almighty Creator may have been this at the start of the story, but It definitely is by the time of the (very) Distant Finale.
  • Title Drop: In the first chapter by the Almighty Creator. Also invoked by J'on whenever he tries to save himself.
  • Unlikely Hero: J'on. Lampshaded numerous times by said hero. O'ne says the only reason he was chosen is because It's too busy taking care of other worlds and he'll "do just fine".
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: G'wel and J'on. They attempt to have sex twice but are interrupted.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Happens to all three immortals when J'on forgives them on behalf of O'ne.
  • White Void Room: G'wel and J'on are both thrown into the Non-World by the Immortals, a white space between the worlds. It turns out to be the prison for king N'om, who defied O'ne by declaring himself a god in his place.
  • Wise Tree: J'on the chosen one travels the ocean to visit a wise old figure so he can impart his wisdom about the history of the world to him. It turns out that the figure is in fact a giant tree which has stood there for eons. The only way to talk to it is by resting inside one of its flowers so it can establish a telepathic link.

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