Triple X International
Dark Horse Comics
Finally! Dark Horse has reprinted Arnold and Jacob Pander's immense, futuristic opus, Triple X, which was first published as a seven-issue series in late 1994/early 1995.
Back then, I read each issue as they came out (towards the end there the publishing schedule got a bit erratic), and now Triple X is back as a $24.95, continuous-read graphic novel.
Dark Horse didn't reprint the beautiful, painted cover pieces from the original run, but you might catch them in a local fine art gallery.
Triple X is definitely a weird ride, and it deals with about as many problems as anyone (or any government) can accumulate in a lifetime. Despite some clunky dialogue and a few silly plot maneuvers (that's what you get when you play with science fiction), there are about four or five scenes that are destined to put Arnold and Jacob Pander on a pedestal as geniuses in the hall of comic greats.
No one draws like the Panders, and their sense of perspective is awesome enough to make your head reel. Mine did several times during my recent, third, re-read of Triple X in its graphic novel form. Whether it's a gravity defying rabid squirrel in the background or a real close look at an eyeball at just the right time or an innovative progression of action panels (issue 6, page 25 has to be one of the most disturbing sequences in comics lore), the Panders always throw in a quirky shot every few pages to keep things visually innovative.
Some of the best pages of Triple X are wordless. Alongside the main story of government and industry corruption, the Panders chronicle the birth of a freedom fighter as a wordless, powerful subplot. A young woman imprisoned and enslaved by her government for distributing revolutionary newspapers. As Triple X's main character goes through his transformation from wishy-washy photographer to active revolutionary, this lady transforms and reacts to the very violent, ignorant world she finds herself trapped in. Her story and the main plotlines are woven together masterfully (yes, masterfully) into a closing sequence that culminates with the best final panel of any graphic work this decade (the only comparison I can think of offhand is the last panel of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon's Watchmen (from the mid 1980s).
If you care about civil rights or politics, Triple X's final panel carries an unbeatable punch.
There are all sorts of artistic devices and subplots in Triple X that keep me moving with the story even when the main plot (following photographer, Hans, around on an investigative mission) starts to wear down. Basically, this is about an Amsterdam of the future, which is owned and governed by hungry corporations, and a small band of revolutionaries trying to expose the truth and free those enslaved.
Hans, an American who flees to Amsterdam, finds the same problems everywhere he runs, and feels torn between the power of the free press to challenge ignorance, and the power of the fist to get more immediate results.
I spoke with a dancer recently who had also read Triple X. In Triple X she found a personal message which told her that dancers should unionize. Union is the core of Triple X. People need to work together for whatever means, and Arnold and Jacob Pander work perfectly together as they give us a bold graphic novel which is humorous (the above mentioned squirrel, and every dog that makes an appearance just to pee or poop), entertaining, and deep.
As you'd expect, Triple X is available at Bad Kitty, Pegasus and Future Dreams.
Next Month: The freedom of speech and the rights of workers (heavy stuff) are explored in the Pander Bros. powerful Triple X..