I acquired a copy of this arc through Netgallery
*Trigger Warnings: violence, sex, infidelity*
‘Titan’ by François Vigneault is a sci-fi graphic novel that was originally published in French in May 2017. The book currently has an average rating of 3.38 stars on Goodreads and I have rated it 4 stars.
When MNGR first class João da Silva lands on Titan he expects to find those willing to help him increase the mining plant’s productivity so it doesn’t get shut down. Instead he is surprised to find a mining colony plagued by tension between the genetically engineered Titans and the Terran management leaders. Phoebe, a Titan, has left her fighting days behind her when she turned her back on the fighting sport “mixing”, and now she finds herself caught between a past she wants to forget and a future she can’t see. Together the two pull together to find a way to ease tensions and save Homestead, or they risk launching a full on solar-system rebellion lead by the Titans.
‘Titan’ explores the concept of worker’s rights in a capitalist society, and the treatment and the discrimination of the working class and those who are different (through the Titans). It deftly explores this through the privileged João whose part of the Terran ruling elite, and Phoebe who is part of the undermined and mistreated group of Titans at Homestead.
João is a privileged individual who at first seems to view himself as some form of a saviour, he naively believes he can solve Homestead’s problems on Titan by leading Terrans and Titans alike. What he actively fails to realise for the first portion of the novel is that he is part of a group who regularly mistreats another group and therefore is viewed as another oppressor at worst, or at best patronising, rather than any great help. I believe this reflects how many of us react to those who are more privileged than us who try to ‘save’ us, and we’ve seen a rising discussion in this in recent years with the label ‘white saviour’.
In contrast to this we also follow Pheobe, part of the oppressed Titans. She is somewhat far more open to the prospect of what João is proposing than other Titans, as she appears to be far more interested in and sympathetic to Terran culture. Pheobe is an intriguing character with several layers, who Vigneault routinely challenges in her views and loyalties, and overall I liked her arc throughout the story.
The story focuses a lot on the concept of war and rebellion, and how they are born, prolonged and ended. It seems to give quite a dreary outlook on these issues and routinely criticises both sides to question if anyone is truly ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in the situation. It is also extremely well done as it mirrors techniques both sides in rebellions – the rebels and the oppressors – use to hurt the other side in real life, and at no point does Vigneault seem to praise one over the other, he merely showcases what we are capable of in times of great distress.
The main conflict of the book is not so much the rising tensions on the moon Titan, but really it’s how the reader must grapple with the way Vigneault has portrayed capitalism. It leaves the reader continuously questioning who the real villain is in a capitalist society but also how best to fight it, as the author repeatedly questions and challenges the beliefs, methods and loyalties of both sides of the conflict caused by capitalism. It is a rather damning assessment of the concept and explores how the value of profit can impact people’s psyche, much like Arthur Miller did in ‘Death of a Salesman’.
The art style of this was another positive for me. I liked how the art was in shades of black, white and pink that offset the graphic violence and scenes often displayed in deep space. I thought the colours contrasted well with each other without making the story to gory to read or look at, it distanced the reader from difficult scenes without completing removing them from the horrors of it.
Whilst the graphic novel explores interesting concepts and issues I would have preferred for it to have given more depth, and to have explored the nuances of the ideas it was challenging. This graphic novel also suffers from a problem a lot of others suffer from: I wanted to know the characters further. I felt I only learnt about João and Phoebe on a surface level and can’t fully detail their motivations, fears and passions; I would have preferred to have spent more time with them and learn what truly makes these characters tick.
Overall it’s a good sci-fi graphic novel that explores the conflicts and horrors of capitalism in deep space, whilst also managing to challenge both sides of the argument. I would recommend this if you enjoy sci-fi or graphic novels, but if you don’t want to read a graphic novel that includes sex scenes or heavy violence I suggest you don’t pick this up.