Hernán Rodríguez’s “Black Fire”: Abject Hunger

Kristeva’s notion of the abject.

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Contains spoilers. You have been warned!

So last night I read Hernán Rodríguez’s “Black Fire” (chernyy ogonʹ), a graphic novel in the horror genre set after Napoleon’s invasion of Russia and his forced subsequent withdrawal. As you may know, the ravenous cold, harsh weather conditions and bands of wandering Cossacks (light infantry hired by the Russians) picked off the French Grande Armeé as they made their miserable retreat. Our dear friend Wikipedia tells us that 380,000 men died, 100,000 were captured, and 27,000 survived to cross the Berezina River on their way back to France. In other words, only 0.056% of the original fighting force remained!

The cover of Hernán Rodríguez's "Black Fire".

In “Black Fire”, two of our main protagonists, Serpierre and Ducasse, are soldiers in Napoleon’s army. As they walk home they are ambushed by Cossacks and separated from the main fighting force; however, whether by serendipity or grave fortune, the Cossacks…

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