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The mecha subgenre has been a perennial favourite. Mechas feature robots controlled by people inside them. H.G. Wells kicked it off with his brilliantly imagined Martian “tripods" and you can see the connection all the way to the Pacific Rim movie.

Another venerable genre is alternate history—taking the greatest “What if?" questions to imagine new worlds. Philip K. Dick’s Man In The High Castle is an all-time classic, with a defeated America divided into zones occupied by Germany and Japan, the World War II winners.

Writer Jean-Luc Sala’s Iron Squad takes these two classic tropes and smashes them together. Sala hangs his peg on what he calls the “Alamogordo Incident"—Albert Einstein’s kidnapping by the Nazis in 1943. The super-scientist is forced to design giant robots called Mekapanzers, which turn the tide of the war. This absolutely preposterous scenario is not examined too seriously, however—Sala wisely limits himself to the action on the ground, where it is a lot of fun. The first instalment pits the Nazis encircling Moscow against a desperate band of Soviet soldiers who have their own crude mechas.

In France, even pop culture is sophisticated. Right away you know you are in a BD (bande dessinee) when film-maker Sergei Eisenstein is casually dropped into the narration without an explanatory note on who he is.

Iron Squad is not gourmet cooking but comfort food. There are guilty pleasures such as a battle between robots with a quote by Lenin. The art is crisp, and the rendering of military hardware, such as the futuristic “flying wing" Gotha fighter by artist Ronan Toulhoat, will be a geek’s delight. It is Bolshevik armour versus Nazi Mekapanzers—what’s not to like?

The Wendigo is a relatively late entrant into the pop horror pantheon of monsters. British horror maestro Algernon Blackwood’s short story, written in 1910, introduced this Native American myth into the mainstream. Despite a fairly short tenure, the creature has enjoyed its promotion to mass culture, featuring in works such as Stephen King’s Pet Sematary and Mike Mignola’s series set in the Hellboy universe.

According to the original Algonquian Indian myth, a man turned into a Wendigo if he resorted to cannibalism in times of famine, taking the form of a giant skeleton wrapped in skin.

Writer Mathieu Missoffe sends this revenant on a trans-Atlantic journey from Canada to the man-made horrors of World War I trenches. Trailing the entity is the only man who can stop him, Native American tracker Wohati.

The premise is simple—French and German soldiers take a break from killing each other to join forces and track down a monster which has been scarfing down their numbers like hors d’oeuvres. Superstar artist Charlie Adlard of The Walking Dead is another attraction—a sequence where they are stalked by the beast in a poison-gas shrouded landscape is a beaut. His atmospheric artwork, complemented by Aurore Folny’s haunting colours, gives an air of creeping menace to the proceedings.

I had enjoyed Missoffe’s work in the Secretes Terres series about a mysterious grimoire called the Corpus Hermeticum, with his trademark blend of the occult and suspense. Inexplicably, there is a mention of the Hermeticum slap in the middle of this book. What on earth was it doing here? Soon the mystery is cleared up: This is actually Book 5 of the Secret Earth series called “The Breath Of The Wendigo", repackaged as a new stand-alone series.

These are just two of the 150 titles that French impresario Guy Delcourt has brought over from France, thanks to a tie-up with digital publisher ComiXology. For fans who have had to rely on “scanlations" for years, this will be a welcome relief.

Iron Squad and The Curse Of The Wendigo, priced at $2.99 (around 200) each, are available at

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