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Review: Blake & Mortimer Vol. 7 The Affair of the Necklace

Blake & Mortimer Vol. 7 The Affair of the Necklace

There is no historical figure in France more celebrated and vilified than Marie Antoinette. The words that have made her so infamous to so many has become known only in recent years that she never uttered them. It was during her tenure that the French Revolution took root and crushed the monarchy finally.

Over time, monarchies like hers fell eventually but what people of that time did not count on was the romanticizing of those figures throughout history. The film by Sofia Coppola both dispelled myth and gave viewers even ore insight into this legend while doing one thing most historical pictures haven’t done, make her hip. The world got another chance to fall in love with her again. In the seventh volume of Blake & Mortimer our intrepid heroes became entangled with her legend while facing an old foe.

Our dynamic duo show up in Paris, the city is buzzing with news of the impending nuptials of two royals, and quite a crown jewel being offered. They show up to a pre-wedding party for the monarchy, a few mysterious occurrences take place, leading to the theft of Marie Antoinette’s necklace, by their old nemesis, Olrik. He makes it difficult for the two to find, even using local gangsters to stop them in their tracks. Their search leads to Paris’s underground where Olrik’s man, Sharkey apprehended by the police, leads them and where they find out that their old enemy is hiding more than that necklace.

Overall, the seventh volume is an entertaining adventure which has the guys mixed in with gangsters, history, and royalty. The story by Edgar P. Jacobs is dense, smart, and gripping, The art by Jacobs is vivid and fluid. Altogether, one of the better adventures from this series.

Story: Edgar P. Jacobs Art: Edgar P. Jacobs
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Blake & Mortimer Vol. 6: S.O.S Meteors

Blake & Mortimer Vol. 6: S.O.S Meteors

If you were born in the 20th century, you were treated to some of best acting performances of all time. There were actors that are once in a generation. Some of my favorite actors of all time, are no longer with us, like John Candy and Raul Julia. One of those actors made the world smile while the other actor made the world feel.

Another actor, who is still with us, but is more retired than working these days, is Sean Connery. He’s probably best known for his time as James Bond. One of his best movies of all time, one in which he plays an older maverick, is The Hunt For Red October. Then there are some of his not so great movies, like The Avengers, where he played Sir August De Wynter who plans to take over the world with a climate changing machine. In the sixth volume of Blake and Mortimer, our heroes are fighting a climatic threat, one that is obliterating Europe.

We catch up with Professor Mortimer, as he is in Paris, to figure what is causing the atmospheric disruptions when he notices the inordinate amount of rain, affecting transportation, and in effect causing accidents. Meanwhile, Blake is following a case surrounding a mysterious network which lead him to Paris as well. We soon find out that an old foe came out of hiding, as he has joined forces with some French gangsters and a mad scientist, to take control of Western Europe.

Overall, this volume is an engaging story that shows even the most over the top plots can by executed perfectly in the right hands. The story by Edgar P. Jacobs is action packed and funny. The art by Jacobs is alluring.  Altogether Jacobs proves he can tell a story that both well developed and entertaining.

Story: Edgar P. Jacobs Art: Edgar P. Jacobs
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Blake and Mortimer Vol. 5 The Strange Encounter

One of the joys of being a reviewer is I sometimes get to read/watch new content before it gets released to the masses. As I have read, to this point, hundreds of books which have entertained me endlessly and provoked thought about issues I would not normally engage in. The world learns through art and art often reflects the truths no one wants to directly say. I also get to review television shows weeks or months before it premieres.

One such show is the reboot of Roswell in which the original show revolved around three aliens who look like humans and whom are at under constant threat of being discovered. The show both entertained the novelty of alien species as well as balancing it with teenage angst. As the world has been obsessed with life beyond space, even making our current president wanting to know what is out there. In the fifth volume of Blake and Mortimer, our intrepid heroes head to the United States to solve the mystery of a man who disappeared more than a hundred years only to be found dead.

We are taken to 1777 and a descendant of Mortimer is fighting for the British during the American Revolution, amidst a battle, he sees three streams of light, and instantly disappears. Fast Forward 177 years later, and we find Blake & Mortimer headed to the United States, as their assistance is required in both identifying a mysterious body and finding out exactly what happened to it. Eventually they have mysterious men follow, with interference at every turn, as we soon find out that the U.S. military is working against them, as the pair finds more questions than answers in their discovery. By book’s end, our heroes find out the truth and Mortimer gets to bury his ancestor in the way he should have been.

Overall, it’s an excellent fish out of water story for this pair that more than dips into the science fiction genre but adds a dash of panache. The story by Jean Van Hamme is tense and action packed. The art by Benoit is breathtaking and appropriate. By story’s end, this adventure gives Blake and Mortimer the jump start they needed and what their fans enjoy about these comics so much.

Story: Jean Van Hamme Art: Benoit
Story: 10 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.6 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Blake and Mortimer Vol. 4 The Francis Blake Affair

Throughout the past, in about every country, there are always traitors whose actions can tip the scales of history. Of course, sometimes these betrayals have no bearing but it shows just how fragile trust is. Benedict Arnold’s actions led to him being written as a failure and the ultimate example of what happens to anyone who betrays their country. But, what happens to the people who are framed for a crime like treason that they didn’t commit?

As there is worse feeling in the world than when you tell the truth and you still are not believed. This is when you feel like you are at your lowest. What happens when you are the only person who can clear your name? This is the dilemma that is faced in the fourth volume of Blake and Mortimer, where one of our heroes is framed with leaking information.

We are taken to London, where a recently arrested spy reveals to the world that he is part of a vast network looking to take down England. As MI-5 starts their investigation, it leads to a man who looks exactly like Francis Blake. This leads Mortimer into action, hoping to prove that his friend is innocent, he must find Blake before British Intelligence does, as it may cost Blake his life.

Overall, it’s an excellent installment that gives fans of the series a true mystery with a dash of espionage. The story by Jean Van Hamme is action packed, dense and riveting, The art by Ted Benoit is beautiful. Altogether, this is the one story which would be the perfect jumping on point for any new readers.

Story: Jean Van Hamme Art: Ted Benoit
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Buck Danny Volume 6 Mystery in Antarctica

When I was in the military, one of the most interesting experiences I had a chance to do was work alongside foreign military. This happened on a few occasions where we had to pull into the that country’s military base or some other occasion. I remember when we pulled into Toulon, France, our counterparts there treated us better than if we pulled into an American base. I remember going onto their version of an aircraft carrier, a ship called Charles De Gaulle, where me and my Chief were both surprised at their hospitality, as they gave us wine to drink while eating chow on board their vessel.

It probably was one of the most unique experiences I had while on official duty, as it gave me a different world view on how these countries we visit, were not merely ports of call, but new cultures to discover. This also made me realize that we had more in common than we realized. I remembered talking to a French sailor where we bonded over our love for the music of Chubb Rock. At the end of the day if you traveled outside of your confines to another country you should be transformed. In the sixth installment of Buck Danny we find Buck and his squadron having to work with French Navy pilots to uncover the truth of some mysterious aircraft in Antarctica.

We find Buck and his crew getting some downtime onboard the USS Truman, unfortunately the ship has been redirected to Antarctica, where they have been tasked to identify some “unidentified aircraft”, alongside the French Navy. While on mission, they discover a dead man on board one of the icebergs, which leads them closer to who is in Antarctica, through the dead man’s journal, discovers what happened but not why. Buck’s aircraft gets shot down, and is stranded on an icecap, where he discovers a treasure trove of WWII gold. By book’s end, the marauders have been apprehended and the world is that much safer.

Overall, a story set in an unlikely place, which heats up around the mystery and the unlikely allies Buck and the squad finds. The story by Francis Bergese is funny and action packed. The art by Bergese as with the rest of series, just stellar. Altogether, a great story in a cold place. Most readers will pass but will be a fool. This skillful storytelling at its best.

Story: Francis Bergese Art: Francis Bergese
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Buck Danny Vol. 5 Thunder Over the Cordillera

I remember growing up, I loved history, so basically consumed everything history related. Especially American History, as every day, historians are finding out new facts every day, as I pretty consumed with everything American Revolution related and Civil War related. Eventually I would branch out to other countries histories, and to what I have come to call, self-knowledge. Knowing where your family is from and your family’s roots to those places, became part of identity, much like every child.

Where my mother is from, the Philippines, there has always been a history of civil unrest, as every Filipino, even those of us born in the States, carry what the Bible calls “a brand plucked from fire”. As every Filipino family I know claims some lineage to Lapu Lapu, the man who killed Magellan. This firebrand can be seen all over the world, from those oppressed, as this is the very reasons there are coups and civil wars. This is what happens in the latest volume of Buck Danny, where our heroes are caught in a difficult situation.

We find our heroes racing to find help while Nicaraguan military is on the hunt for them shortly after their escape. Meanwhile, Colonel Diaz preps whomever still is loyal to him, for a civil war, one that will change the country forever. Eventually, Lady X, gets involved, and unleashes her mercenaries to quell any strife. By book’s end, the drug ring becomes pull to pieces and Buck saves Cindy.

Overall, the most exciting installment  of the series, as we see firsthand how Buck and his squadron embody the best in all of us. The story by Francis Bergese proves he knows how to tell high flying action. The art by Bergese evokes old school sequential art with new school sensibilities. By book’s end, you will be cheering for Buck Danny and looking for the next volume.

Story: Francis Bergese Art: Francis Bergese
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Buck Danny Vol. 4 No-Fly Zone

Tom Cruise is one of those actors, where his movies always make san impression on you. Who could not forget his memorable turn in Tropic Thunder, playing a character, who looks nothing like him.  Then there is his turn as an uppity Public relations officer he played in Edge of Tomorrow, which some may say is the natural progression of the character he played in Top Gun. There is also the rebooted version of Ethan Hunt, in Mission impossible movies, something is really either hit or miss.

Of course, everything he does, is not exactly a hit, and it depends on how you perceived the movie, like Vanilla Sky, which I personally can’t get through every time I have tried. There is his most recent star turn in American Made, about a real-life pilot hired by the CIA to fly drugs. It was probably one of his better movies in years and since it was based on a true story, it makes you wonder how often did something like this happen. This is exactly what is pondered in Buck Danny: No-Fly Zone, as Buck ventures into Nicaragua.

In this adventure, Buck, Sonny and Tumb are reassigned to Nicaragua, to train the country’s Air Force pilots in flying their newly acquired F/A-18s. As with most of these books, the Colonel, has an undercover operation going on at the same time, as the government believes that the country is the source of illegal drugs. As training gets underway, they soon find out they are near a no-fly zone, which proves to confirm their suspicions. By book’s end, there is a bigger plot afoot and the Nicaraguan military finds themselves at odds.

Overall, an interesting beginning to an interesting arc, that proves Francis Bergese is at home with conspiracy thrillers. The story by Bergese is fun and suspense driven. The art by Bergese is gorgeous. Altogether, a bold take on the some well-traveled road that Narcos recently ventured into.

Story: Francis Bergese Art: Francis Bergese
Story: 9.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Buck Danny Vol. 3 Ghost Squadron

“Dereliction of duty” is one of those things when I was in the military, I never heard anyone getting in trouble for. People would get in trouble, but not for the things they would in the movies or television. In fact, movies like Top Gun although entertaining are not very realistic. I remember joining the Navy, 20 years after that movie, and I would work with officers who said they went to flight school because of that movie.

This is where the movies and reality split hard, if any pilot pull any of the crap Maverick, did, they would lose their flight status or even their commission. It is romantic to think that if you disobeyed orders to follow your gut, you would be celebrated for your decision. The truth is harsher. You would most certainly get an Article 13. So, when I see these things play out in books, television, and movies, we never see the actual fallout. In Buck Danny: Ghost Squadron, one of Danny’s pilots does this very thing, and it plays out a little different than we are used to seeing.

We catch up with Danny’s squadron, where they are operating in Eastern Europe, in this installment, Tuck gets in trouble for taking out a Serbian missile battery. Instead of a court martial, he gets assigned to a squadron which flies secret missions which is coincidentally also headed by Buck, and they both must learn how to fly a F-16.  As the squadron gets closer to their mission, a renegade pilot known as Lady X, starts picking apart their squadron one by one. By books’ end, the blackmail of one of their pilots leads to Buck Danny and his squadron tot the source of how Lady X decimated his squadron.

Overall, an okay installment, as the art usually takes the backseat to the story in this series, in this case, it s the opposite. The story by Francis Bergese is rigid, predictable but still enjoyable. The art by Bergese is gorgeous. Altogether, if you liked the series up to this point, buy it if you are a completest but if a good story motivates your buying, I suggest you read the other books in this series.

Story: Francis Bergese Art: Francis Bergese
Story: 5.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 6.0 Recommendation: Read

Review: A Buck Danny Adventure Vol. 2 The Secrets of the Black Sea

The Americans on FX, is one of those shows that both interesting and nostalgic. The storyline revolves around two planted USSR agents in 1980s Virginia, much like the brilliantly under watched Little Nikita. It romanticizes an era in our country and really in our world, that many movies and tv shows tend to parody, but really it was kind of magical. Growing up in that era, I think back on how much of how the times was just leaving the style and rational of the 1970s and the much more liberal philosophy of the 1980s.

What transcended that time, was the “Cold War,” it became more lukewarm, towards the end of 1980s, but I remember hearing on the news at the time, the name Gorbachev, a lot. The FX show, brought those times back for me, as I remember some the true events that was on the news happening. The one part of the Cold War, that the show might tackle in its last season, and rarely gets explored, is the end, where terms like “glasnost” and “perestroika” was no more. In this second volume, of Buck Danny, The Secrets of the Black Sea, our protagonist deals with this very dilemma, as he sent to observe.

We catch with up Buck, shortly after getting called to the Pentagon, as an Admiral ropes him into bureaucratic business, to observe, the Russian military, as both, still believe the Russians still have one last hand to play, before it is all over. He meets Captain Alexanko, who is to fly him to meet a Russian Admiral, when their fighter gets caught in a dogfight, and they must walk find their way safely. They eventually are rescued but an international incident happens between the two sides one that may irreversible. By book’s end, Buck may have just stopped some mutineers, as change can be hard, especially in  time of transition.

Overall, an excellent installment, which proves that comic books are true form of literature, that should never be underestimated. The story by Jacques De Douhet is intriguing and action packed. The art by Francis Bergese is awe inspiring and beautiful. Altogether, an action packed international thriller, that proves that one wrong move can make the difference of what starts a war.

Story: Jacques De Douhet Art: Francis Bergese
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Alpha Volume 4 Sanctions

When I was growing up, morals in the movies and TV shows, were certainly not complicated.  They made clear distinctions of who were the good guys and who were the bad guys. Take TV shows like GI Joe, where there was no questioning that Destro and Cobra Commander were evil and Duke and Flint were good. They even made it clear with the ninjas, but wearing opposite colors, as Snake Eyes wore black and Storm Shadow wore white.

AS the audience became more intelligent, the movies and TV shows became more complicated in their dealings with morality. One of those movies which started to question the status quo, was Rambo: First Blood, which did not play out as an action thriller but more like a horror movie. A recent movie, brought back the questioning of those morals once again, in The Iceman, where Michael Shannon’s character, plays a contract killer, who lives a double life. Both characters remind me of the arch nemesis must face in the fourth and final volume of Alpha, Sanctions.

In this volume, Alpha and his partner must escort a high valued foreign official while in country, but little do any of them know, a retired killer, for the former KGB is in Washington DC. As sanctions take place, between both governments, bodies on both sides start to drop all over the Capital Beltway. Alpha starts digging into this retired bogeyman, and finds many unresolved problems, as he is starting to understand his motivation.  By book end, Alpha exposes a massive coverup, which puts everyone in check and leaves Alpha, the moral hero.

Overall, a great conclusion, to an enticing spy series, which leaves the reader, reaching for their old copy of their favorite Tom Clancy novel. The story by Youri Jigounov has all the flash and bang that makes these spy thrillers a must read. The art by Mythic is alluring. Altogether, a morality tale in a world filled with shadows that proves everyone must suffer a consequence.

Story: Youri Jigounov Art: Mythic
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

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