"You can buy Forever"
— 'Stileman Enterprises sloganDallas Barr
is a Belgian
science fiction comic book series. Based on Joe Haldeman
's novel Buying Time
, it is the second collaboration between Marvano and Haldeman, after their acclaimed adaptation of The Forever War
Comprising seven albums, it spans about 20 years in the second half of the 21st century. The albums focus on the titular Dallas Barr, the second oldest man in the world and oldest friend of the oldest, Dr. Julius Stileman. Decades ago, Stileman perfected immortality and became the most powerful man on Earth by selling it in slices of 10 years. His asking price is everything you own, with a minimum of £1 million. In other words: your money or your life.
This has resulted in a world without super-rich bastards (well, except the one, of course), because the bright and ambitious no longer have much reason to ever accumulate more than a million.
Dallas is a minor celebrity, the prototype of a class of immortals who practice the art of earning a million pounds quickly, and then spend the rest of their 10 years enjoying life to the fullest. But this world can continue to exist only as long as Stileman retains his monopoly, and cracks are starting to form.
Contains examples of:
- Ambiguously Brown: Dallas' "Yul Brynner meets Edward Scissorhands" face.
- Anachronism Stew: Marvano often copies existing designs, especially in the early albums. So while it's the late 21st century, the United States military fields planes that are just the most advanced looking among modern planes, and a large lunar colony still uses the exact same spacesuits that astronauts use now.
- Artificial Gravity: Developed by the ethical reveil. Lord Stileman predicts it will be worse than atomic weapons for Earth.
- Awesome, but Impractical: Those Swiss guard commandos protecting The Pope look pretty formidable, but you have to wonder about the camouflage implications of still wearing yellow-blue striped fabric under their futuristic armor, not to mention the huge red feathers on top of their Cool Helmet.
- Break Out the Museum Piece: At one point, Stileman manages to procure a mothballed 20th century Russian rocket, the last one around. Somehow it even comes with a stereotypical Russian launch team.
- Coincidental Broadcast: the assassination of Lord Stileman in Paris is directly followed by a broadcast of Lord Stileman giving a press conference on recent events in Florida, setting up a cliffhanger.
- Cool Plane: Ricardo Garibaldi lives on a plane large enough to have a garden in the cargo hold.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: In the second album, the long lost love of Dallas' life turns up. They reconnect and both Dallas and Julius go to extreme lengths to save her life. At the end of the album they have succeeded, and naturally, she's never seen again.
- Cyborg: Dmitri has a plate over his face which seems to contain an artificial eye, but this is never commented upon.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: The lunar attempt to retake Ad Astra.
- Design Student's Orgasm: Lord Stileman's personal office and penthouse. As it happens, Marvano is an actual interior designer.
- Disproportionate Retribution: The ethical reveil is first brought up in a news broadcast about someone who responded to a racial slur with a hand granade.
- Divided States of America: Possibly the mildest possible example. The first album sees the successful secession of the Florida Keys as the Conch Republic. America barely cares.
- The Don: Don Alonzo.
- Driven to Madness: Apparently, this would be a result of the Stileman treatment, if not for the final amnesia module.
- End of an Age: What the last two albums are all about.
- Everybody Smokes: But only on the moon, where it's encouraged because smoking fills the useful function of helping detect air leaks.
- Erotic Asphyxiation: One of the people treated in 2078 dies that way.
- Evil Cripple: inverted: Simon Grey starts out as a villain scheming against Stileman and Earth, but by the time he gets confined to a wheelchair, they've become close allies implied to be good friends.
- Fiction 500: Not content to be part of it, Lord Julius Stileman has literally managed to restructure society so that it's becomme a Fiction 001 consisting of him and only him.
- Fantastic Drug: Sheroine.
- Faking the Dead: Maria. And later, Dallas.
- Forgets to Eat: A deadly risk to those treated without fluorotexad.
- Futuristic Pyramid: A huge pyramid-shaped building dominates the Paris sky even more then the Stileman HQ. New York also has several.
- Golden Age: This seems to be what Lord Stileman was going for: He knows his hegemony won't last forever, but for as long as he can he wants to give the world a chance to thrive without the bad influence of super-rich monsters like William Randolph Hearst.
- High Times Future: An ofhand comment suggests that at least hashish has become legal in the United States.
- Idle Rich: Habib started out like this, though by the time we meet him, he not only has found a goal in life, but he's also mysteriously gained enough IQ points to achieve it.
- Immortality: What the story is all about.
- Immortality Seeker: all immortals come out the treatment pennyless, and with just ten years to get together one million pound so they can buy another decade. Later, after the rise of the ethical reveil, people start cancelling treatments in the hope that if they just live religiously enough, they will find "true" treatment-less immortality.
- Ironic Echo: In the first album, Lord Stileman demonstrates his status as the most powerful man on the world asking for, and getting, unofficial military support from the United States president. In the last album, Stileman's attempt to stop his power from slipping away is hampered by a new president offering similar support to his challengers.
- Longevity Treatment: This is the central premise of the series.
- Magic Antidote: While apparently there are still incurable diseases (AIDS-x, for example), no ill survives the Stileman treatment, up until drug addiction.
- Magic Plastic Surgery: An optional feature of the longevity treatment.
- Magnificent Bastard: Lord Stileman.
- May-December Romance: Sarabande and Dallas posing as Lord Stileman. Implied to be common among immortals in general, the younger looking trophy wife not always being May...
- The Mole; doctor Strauß in the first story. And then in the last, United States President Boesel turns out to have been working with the ethical reveil all along. Somewhat subverted in that Lord Stileman knew he posed a huge risk, he just didn't tell anyone else.
- Noodle Incident: Claudia Compton begs Lord Stileman to help her "because of their past". This is never elaborated upon.
- The Pope: A client. In secret, of course, since officially the church does not condone immortality.
- Rapid Aging: this happens once you get to the end of the 10 years of immortality given by the treatment. Most prominently seen in the first story.
- Really 700 Years Old: After a treatment, you can look as old as you want. Surprisingly few people seem to go for anything lower than middle age, but some do. Inverted with the pope, who looks older than he is.
- Scars Are Forever: averted; creating and then removing scars without the patient even realizing they ever had them is part of the Stileman treatment.
- Settling the Frontier: what Dallas hopes to participate in by going to Mars.
- Smart People Play Chess: Lord Stileman.
- Suicide Attack: The subject of one of Lord Stileman's Vietnam war flashbacks.
- Super Villain: Claudia Compton definatly has shades of this.
- Space Station: Ad Astra. CNN also has a small one from which its news anchors report.
- Terraform: The terraforming of Mars has been commenced by unmanned probes in the early 21st century even though no one has bothered to send actual people to see how it goes.
- Unobtainium: played with with fluorotexad, which is apparently key to the life extension treatment. Subverted when it turns out it actually serves to make the treatment less powerful, limiting the number of extra years you get.
- Vietnam War: Despite the series starting in the 2070s, the two main characters are veterans.
- Western Terrorists: Earth First looks like this, though though their founder turns out to be a Lunar agent.