In this seventh volume, we follow the story of Atan from the Aedena saga which started in volume 1 (Upon a Star), and continued in Volume 5 (The Gardens of Aedena).
Now, Atan has come to refer to herself as ‘Atana’, and has been traversing the world of Aedena seeking her partner Stel.
Her journey has been unsuccessful thus far, interspersed with strange dreams involving a demonic entity. In one of her recent dreams, she enters a pyrmaid where she find Stel seated on a triangular podium, her relief soon turns to terror as Stel transforms into the hideous entity that has been haunting her dreams. What does it all mean?
As she goes travelling further she is faced with a gruesome scene of a decapitated head. She is startled, but it also confirms her hopes of there being more intelligent life on Aedena.
And indeed there is, as she is soon captured by strange masked men who transport her to an underground city called ‘The Nest’.
There she wakes to find that she too is wearing a phallic mask but is unable to free herself from it.
Some of the workers in The Nest start wondering whether Atana is the Goddess who was prophesied to come and free them from their ‘imprisonment’.
She is rescued by some rebels and is transported even deeper into the bowels of the city where she encounters a roacher; a reject from the city who now dwells in the sewers, and a blind child, alongside whom she jorneys inside of his dreams seeking answers.
Soon a revolution starts brewing on the upper regions with Atana finding herself on the forefront.
The heirarchy in this society answer to the ‘Paternum’ which houses a humanoid entity, and it soon becomes clear that the creature in Atana’s dream is this very same being, who is bent on stopping her at all costs.
The idea of a closed off society living in a sometimes totalitarian environment, has been a fascination for science fiction writers both past and present, and Moebius adds his own twist to it.
The phallic masks worn by the residents of the city is at once strange, but funny at the same time. They live in an artifical environment where real progress is hindered by their arrogance, or rather, fears.
Moebius’ artwork is engrossing, especially his depiction of the city and its sewer levels. It calls to mind his work on The Incal, and there are very few artists who can draw water, and especially turbulent water as good as him.
This panel in particular, calls to mind The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai.
The theme of metamorphosis is strong in Moebius’ stories, and it is intriguing to see the transformation of Atana from a sexless space traveller to that of a powerful Goddess, freeing a people from the shackles of ignorance.
Black Thursday is a short story about a courier in a technologically advanced civilisation who is disgusted by the vanity creations of his superiors and tries to challenge them, but never follows through on his plan. Nothing changes in the end.