"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:
- The Aggressive Drug Dealer: though they have an excuse; a sheroine addiction is so expensive to maintain that their potential market is tiny, and the only person they deem well-connected and well-trusted enough to introduce it would never work for them voluntarily.
- 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.
- Awesome McCoolname: Sarabande *; so cool that the album in which she first appears is named after her.
- Badass Boast: The Stileman Enterprises slogan: You can buy forever.
- Badass Grandpa: Dallas qualifies, but the best example would be lord Stileman.
- Bad Dreams: His withfluorotexad-less treatment cause Lord Stileman to flash back to the Vietnam war.
- Book Dumb : becomes a plot point when the very intelligent but also very practical-minded Simon Grey never caught on to why his lover called their son Dorian
- Brain Uploading: Developed and used by professor Harrison as well as her son.
- 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.
- Character Title: Dallas Barr.
- Chekhov's Gun: if you thought that story line with the fluorotexad shortage had been fully resolved, you've clearly not yet at the point in the series where it pretty much brings an end to Stileman's golden age.
- Christianity is Catholic: though somewhat justified in that most Christians featured in the series hail from Italy, where this is pretty much Truth in Television.
- The City Of Light: has gained a lot of skyscrapers, but isn't much changed apart from that. Lord Stileman has his headquarters here. Sarabande falls in love with Lord Stilleman/Dallas there.
- 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.
- Conscription: Simon Grey's desire to see the moon independent is rooted in Earth drafting his son just to remind him that that they were still in charge.
- Cool Old Guy: a lot of immortals are like this.
- Cool Plane: Ricardo Garibaldi lives on a plane large enough to have a garden in the cargo hold.
- Continuity Nod: Stileman's fencing skills.
- Conveniently Unverifiable Cover Story: Harper claims to be the only survivor of a village hit by a chemical leak.
- 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.
- Cult Colony: A borderline example; while that's essentially the ethical reveil's plan for the Mars mission, by the time they're ready to put the plan in action they are already starting to move towards to mainstream on Earth.
- 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 example ever. The first album sees the successful secession of the Florida Keys as the Conch Republic. America barely cares.
- Do Androids Dream??: Alluded in the Moon arc. Surprisingly, the creator of brain uploading, who has initialy argued that her uploads are as much if not more alive then regular humans, is last seen arguing that machines can't love.
- The Don: Don Alonzo.
- Driven to Madness: Apparently, this would be a result of the Stileman treatment, if not for the final amnesia module.
- Emergent Human: Lyndon Harper was designed with a specific mission, but being left on his own for years caused this. Unfortunately, he did not turn out to be a very good Human.
- 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.
- Explosive Decompression: averted. the moon inhabitants have a "healthy respect for vacuum", but Dallas has enough of an understanding of how it would really go to escape an outpost by going outside and reaching a vehicle fast enough to not die.
- Fiction 500: Not content to be part of it, Lord Julius Stileman has literally managed to restructure society so that it has become a Fiction 001 consisting of him and only him.
- Fanservice: For Lord Stileman's assistants, this seems to be part of the job description. His personal office in the New York clinick annexes a swimming pool so he can watch them swimming in the nude.
- Fantastic Drug: Sheroine.
- Faking the Dead: Maria. And later, Dallas.
- Fake Kill Scare: see no one could survive that.
- Foreshadowing: Sarabande's dissapointment that Lord Stileman's fencing skills aren't as good as she'd heard.
- 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.
- Grew Beyond Their Programming: or rather beyond their imprinted Human mind.
- High Times Future: An ofhand comment suggests that at least hashish has become legal in the United States.
- Hot Scoop: apparently all news anchors are young beautifull females in outfits where Absolute Cleavage is just the beginning.
- 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.
- Indian Summer: Dallas explicitly describes the peroid between managing to make the money needed for a treatment, and actually needing to get it, as this. Consequently, the whole fifth album is an example.
- Infant Immortality: Averted with the baby-killer.
- 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.
- Kill Sat: the United States misile defense system consists of an array of killsats.
- 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, not even drug addiction.
- Magic Plastic Surgery: An optional feature of the longevity treatment.
- The Mafia: Apparently helped set up Lord Stileman's business. Dallas himself is also personally acquainted with a don.
- Mafia Princess: A very ambigious line by Maria suggests that she may be one.
- The Mafiya: The Chechens are behind the Sheroine drug.
- 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...
- Mission from God: Garibaldi and Al Shara both take the fact that they didn't die after failing to receive a treatment as a sign that God has chosen them to initiate an ethical reveil together. (in reality a faulty treatment was to blame). The fact that they don't even worship the same god is conveniently ignored.
- 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.
- Naughty Nuns: Apparently the first thing Maria does after leaving her monastary is finding Dallas and then making love on the beach.
- Never Found the Body: The sixth album starts with Dallas having been missing for ten years. He was last seen heading to what looked like a crime scene where his blood was found, so he is assumed dead.
- Noodle Incident: Claudia Compton begs Lord Stileman to help her "because of their past". This is never elaborated upon.
- No One Could Survive That: "It's no use, I'm a doctor; that man is dead". [[Spoiler: of he's just not any doctor, but a world-class one tasked with being Stileman/Dallas's shadow just in case. And while he is indeed clinically dead for some time, he gets better.]]
- Not Quite Dead: Lord Stilleman (who is really Dallas) survive an assassination attempt in which he is shot at point blank range over a hundred times. Also see No One Could Survive That (obviously).
- No Party Given: two American presidents are seen over the course of the series, neither has their party given.
- Only in Florida: the Conch republic has seen it's share of unusual events over the course of the series, starting of course with the incident causing its existence itself.
- The Pope: A client. In secret, of course, since officially the church does not condone immortality.
- Privately Owned Society: very probably the moon.
- 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.
- Serial Killer: the fifth album has "the baby-killer" which targets babies. A serial killer targeting immortals is also theorized to exist, though that turns out to be untrue.
- Sexy Secretary: Miss Bodine is this and more to Lord Stileman.
- Smart People Play Chess: Lord Stileman.
- Stupid Jetpack Hitler: the fringe theories that anti-gravity research went on at Mittelwerk are briefly alluded to. Stileman apparently takes them somewhat seriously.
- 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.
- Sword Cane: Stileman has one, and he sure knows how to use it.
- 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.
- Vigilante Man: supporters of the ethical reveil tend to take justice in their own hands when they feel the overtly complex justice system is failing.
- Western Terrorists: Earth First looks like this, though though their founder turns out to be a Lunar agent.