The Beautiful Death HC
Publisher: Titan Comics
Release Date: June 6, 2018
Price: $24.99
Creator: Mathieu Bablet
Format: 144 pgs., Full-Color, Hardcover
ISBN: 978-1-7858-6134-5
Age Rating: Teen/Mature
ICv2 Rating: 5 Stars out of 5

Originally released as Le Belle Mort in 2011, The Beautiful Death is the latest offering in Titan Comics’ expanding line of English-language bandes desinnees.  Collecting the entire five-issue mini-series, the new hardcover edition includes a cover gallery as well.

The Beautiful Death is a difficult book to assess primarily because the traditional plot structure recognized in most Western fiction is absent.  Yes, this is a story of a post-apocalyptic earth devastated by an alien invasion and the efforts of several individuals attempting to survive; yet, epic battles against the alien hordes or wars between survivor clans over resources are nowhere to be found.  Instead, The Beautiful Death is more about mood than plot—it is about the everyday efforts at survival, the mundane nature of life, and humanity at its most basic and often violent level.

Combined with sparse dialogue and narration, the opening issues of this epic allow the art to breathe and move the story forward.  While the characters may not be that memorable or offer any hero for audiences to champion, this advanced style of science fiction requires more from its readers.  An urban nightmare, the richly detailed world Bablet has crafted is more a character than the figures themselves.

Readers expecting the routine premise, static character development, or a well-conceived plot often associated with the dystopian genre will be disappointed by The Beautiful Death.  But that is where it succeeds the most—in defying expectations and challenging storytelling tropes.  Retailers wanting to diversify their offerings or librarians wanting to expand on their Euro Comics line should look to Titan for The Beautiful Death and other excellent English-language editions (see review for "'Century’s End'" and "'Pacific'").

Nathan Wilson