Cover of the massive OmnibusThe Metabarons
, also known as The Saga of the Metabarons
is a tragic Space Opera
comic book series written by Alejandro Jodorowsky
and illustrated by Juan Giménez
. It expands on a supporting character who appeared in The Incal
to flesh out the backstory of his entire family. Like the rest of the Jodoverse
, The Metabarons
draws heavily on ideas Jodorowsky developed for his failed Dune
The series follows the five Metabarons of the Castaka family — perfect warriors sworn to victory at all costs. Each Metabaron (after the first) is maimed, usually by their father, has the maimed part replaced or technologically altered, and eventually kills their father in single combat.
The Saga of the Metabarons provides examples of the following tropes:
- Anti-Hero: All the Metabarons. Steelhead in particular tends more towards Villain Protagonist in his darker moments.
- Badass Creed: The Castakas practice Bushitaka, a warrior code that only allows victory or death in any conflict.
- Badass Family: The Castakas generally.
- Bald of Awesome: The last Metabaron, No-Name.
- Byronic Hero: All the Metabarons are these.
- Captain Ersatz: Concepts that Jodorowsky recycled from his aborted Dune adaptation include the following:
- The Shabda-Oud hooker-nuns are based on the Bene Gesserit (and the Honored Matres from the later books), while their name borrows from "Shai-Hulud", the Fremen name for the Sandworms.
- The Techno-Pontificate is the Spacing Guild.
- Mentreks are Mentats.
- The Maganats are the Landsraad.
- The Ekonomat is CHOAM.
- The Endoguard are the Sardaukar.
- Epiphyte is a highly sought-after type of Unobtainium like the spice melange.
- The Metabarons' rite of passage, where their fathers maim parts of their bodies while they must show no pain under penalty of death, is reminiscent of the Bene Gesserit test of humanity.
- Conjoined Twins: Janus-Jana, the Sacred Androgyne and Emperoress of the Galaxy.
- Cyborg: All of the Metabarons are cybernetically enhanced after being ritually maimed. Many other characters appear to have other cybernetic enhancements, but the Metabarons seem to have the most powerful augmentations.
- Framing Device: The saga of the Metabarons is told by a robot named Tonto to another named Lothar. The parts of the book featuring the two interacting is where most of the humor comes from.
- Future Slang: The prefixes paleo- and bio- are frequently attached to words without any real rhyme or reason, resulting in absurd terms like "Paleo-Christ!", "bio-crap," "paleo-wedding," and even "bio-infant". Tonto and Lothar attach robo- to the beginning of many words when they're referring to each other.
- Generational Saga
- Grand Theft Me: Honorata transfers her consciousness into the body of Oda, her son Aghnar's wife. Aghnar isn't aware of this until after Oda-Honorata already bears him a son. Things get worse from there.
- Incurable Cough of Death: Othon von Salza takes terminal damage to his lungs when he destroys the Shabda-Oud cetacyborg. He coughs up blood for the rest of the issue until he dies.
- Last of His Kind: The Metabaron who appears in The Incal is this, voluntarily.
- Mood Whiplash: The robots in the framing device often make unintentionally humorous comments on the tragic or dramatic events in the actual story of the Metabarons. They also use ludicrous robo-slang, giving us gems like "bio-crap", "robo-idiot", and "meca-gulp".
- No Name Given: The last Metabaron actually doesn't have a name at all.
- Proud Warrior Race: The Metabarons.
- Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Pops up frequently throughout the series, including things like a "hospital-planet" and of course the standard Planet Ville and Single Biome Planets. Sometimes played for self-aware humor, especially during the robot storytelling Framing Device.
- Sharing a Body: Steelhead shares his body with Krleza the poet. Implanting Krleza's head creates a composite personality that they name Melmoth. Melmoth refers to himself as "I/we," and combines Steelhead's warrior ethos and skills with Krleza's poetic genius and ability to love. Of course, since Steelhead is a Metabaron, this does not end well at all.
- Showy Invincible Hero: Starting with Aghnar, the Metabarons become godlike in their powers. They are able to win against impossible odds, like when Aghora slaughters an entire universe in a mirror dimension. The dramatic tension of the series comes largely from the horrible tragedy that continuously befalls the Metabaron clan.
- Single Line of Descent: Very much the case with the Castakas. A couple of Metabarons actually end up having more than one child, but no collateral family lines are ever formed. Othon's first son, Bari, is accidentally killed by him when still a teenager, and Steelhead's son (Aghora's twin) dies at birth.
- Space Whale: The Shabda-Oud cetacyborgs. They're no peaceful beasts, though, but Weapons Of Mass Destruction able to raze a planet singlehandedly.
- Tomato in the Mirror: Lothar really is Steelhead.
- Truly Single Parent: Aghora, to the last Metabaron.
- Sister-Sister Incest: Sisters Nan Nan and Ohouya have an incestuous relationship after Othon von Salza loses his genitals in combat. Othon "allowed them the right to satisfy each other's desires as long as they never spoke another word..."
- Unobtanium: Epiphyte, an anti-gravity oil and the original source of the Castaka family wealth.
- World of Buxom: The planet of Ulkmar-Eight-Moon is a literal example. The females of the local proto-anthropoid species all have huge breasts.
- You Kill It, You Bought It:
- Each Metabaron must kill his father in ritual combat to succeed him as the next Metabaron.
- Also, Aghnar kills the patriarch of the space monkeys to become their leader and raise an army against the Shabda-Oud.
- You Can't Fight Fate: The long-suffering robot Tonto, servant of the Metabarons, specifically says that the Metabarons are fated to never be happy.