Review by Karl Verhoven
Anibal Cinq is a completely nutty science fiction romp about a sex-obsessed cyborg fitted with advanced, but concealed weaponry and sent on missions that he blasts and humps his way through. It’s astoundingly imaginative in a perverse way, and takes the erotic science fiction of Barbarella several steps further.
Anibal’s mission is to save the world from Lao Te Kung, known as the Mandarin, a man so evil he survives by annually draining the life energy from four of his naked female protective clones. He has super science at his disposal, a giant gorilla assistant, and revives Al Capone, Adolf Hitler, Genghis Khan and Napoleon from their ashes. Or most of them, anyway. Meanwhile Anibal’s somewhat haphazard plans are directed by a genial old man with his brain wired into his hovering chair, two squabbling scientists obsessed with saving money and a near topless pre-pubsecent girl. Zombies fight cavemen and we have Marilyn Monroe clones as well. Alejandro Jodorowksy’s plot channels his inner teenage boy, hormones jumping and fantasising about the greatest sci-fi movie ever, and Georges Bess draws it splendidly, as if it’s the most serious-minded exploration of megalomaniacal desire. ‘Surreal’ just about begins to describe it.
Bess regularly partners with Jodorowsky, and while Anibal Cinq is an over the top romp, he doesn’t oversell it. He has a cultured line that renders whatever lunacy is on the page as almost believable, and revels in the strangeness of it all. While fitting the deliberately mismatched jumble of imagery, the topless pre-pubescent girl with her cyborg arm is a far more problematical image in the 21st century than when first created, now seeming a little more questionable in terms of a joke.
Unfortunately Anibal Cinq has been translated by someone who hasn’t quite realised it’s meant to be a joke, and there’s a grim formality in places. “This is why this woman loves you! It’s because you are so powerful and no-one has any power over you!”, isn’t one isolated example, it’s par for the course. It’s a matter that impacts considerably, docking the overall ranking of what’s otherwise a nicely produced hardcover in European album format. Such is Jodorowsky’s wacky imagination, though, the spirit survives, if a little scarred. Thankfully, Humanoids have reissued this as Anibal 5 with a much improved translation and have added two further stories to provide by far the better option.