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Review: Blake & Mortimer Vol. 9: The Sarcophagi of the Sixth Continent Part 1

Blake & Mortimer Vol. 9

India is one of those countries that is both revered and speculated. The British have been there for years to the point that one of the UK’s most popular food is Chicken Tikka Masala. My father was born and grew up in one of Britain’s colonies, I can see their influence everywhere when I go back. Even my Dad still talks about how you don’t need a passport to go from Trinidad to England.

From where it started to now what it is, has been a long journey between India and England. It has never been completely cordial, as much of the long seeded hate and discontent also has existed just as long. Can there ever be true harmony between the once colonized and the colonizer? In the ninth volume of Blake & Mortimer, our intrepid heroes solve a mystery while revisiting his past in India.

We’re taken to Simla, the former capital of British India, where a gathering of the Maharajas is taking place at the former Viceroy palace, where we meet a shadowy figure known as Emperor Ashoka. As we soon find out Blake and Mortimer has a long strange history within the country, as this was the place where they met. We soon find out that Mortimer had grown up there, even saving an Indian princess and he had encountered Ashoka once before, whose stance was against the British foreign occupation. Years later Ashoka has his agenda against Mortimer and enlists the duo’s favorite villain, Olrik into his scheme against our protagonists. That is just when Blake and Mortimer find out that Ashoka has a plot to use uranium to cause a major catastrophe which leads them to Brussels. By Blake & Mortimer Vol. 9’s end, an Indian Government agent joins their ranks, and our intrepid duo heads to South Afrika to reckon with Ashoka and Olrik.

Overall, the ninth volume of Blake & Mortimer is a gripping adventure that has the guys deal with the sins of colonization. The story by Yves Sente is exciting. The art by André Juillard is stirring. Altogether, an excellent globe trotting adventure..

Story: Yves Sente Art: André Juillard
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy


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Review: Blake & Mortimer Vol. 8 The Voronov Plot

BLAKE & MORTIMER VOL. 8 THE VORONOV PLOT

Tom Clancy is one of those writers whose eye for detail and character development makes him one of the best. His intimate knowledge of the inner workings of how people like Jack Ryan would operate is immense. That whole series of books was as much as action as it was cerebral maneuvering.

One of his best, and probably the best film adaptation, despite who was playing the titular character, was The Sum Of All Fears. The premise dives into if someone found a nuclear warhead and the subsequent events that lead to an attempted Presidential assassination. The hard truth was Clancy was an insurance salesman before he wrote books but his imagination was immense. In Blake & Mortimer Vol. 8 The Vornov Plot, our intrepid heroes track down a weapon of mass destruction.

We are taken to Kazakhstan, where the Russians shoot a rocket into space, only for it to come back with something, which gives rise to a secret they don’t want the world to know. It is not long before our heroes; Blake and Mortimer are pulled in, as British Intelligence wants to know exactly what the Russians are hiding. As Blake and Mortimer find clues and meet acquaintances, the more the Russians attempt to thwart their motivations. By the book’s end, a defection of a new ally, the uncovering of a massive plot to kill key world individuals, and the embarrassment of a world enemy, leaves our heroes on top of the world.

Overall, Blake & Mortimer Vol. 8 The Vornov Plot is a compelling adventure which has the guys mixed in with Russians, space travel and  on the brink of war. The story by Edgar P. Jacobs is dense, and enthralling, The art by Jacobs is brilliant and flowing. Altogether, one of the best adventures from this series.

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


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Review: Blake & Mortimer Vol. 3: The Mystery of the Great Pyramid (part 2)

Retaliation, Revenge and Get Back was one of my favorite albums that Daz Dillinger had put out back in the late 1990s. For those who don’t know who I am talking about, he was one of the lessor known artists assigned to Death Row Records, the same music label who was responsible for Dr.Dre’s solo success and 2Pac’s resurgence before his death. The album itself was a modern hip hop masterpiece, as it was probably one of the better albums that came out that year.

The title itself was not used just for namesake but was the underlying theme throughout the album as each song personified an aspect of vendetta. To make things balance in the world, one often thinks that they must exact one of these things. This is especially true when one someone close gets brutally murdered, as those around them wonder if a righteous kill equals vengeance? In the third volume of Blake and Mortimer, Mortimer is hot on the trail of Blake’s killer, Olrik.

Captain Blake having been assassinated at Athens Airport, Olrik seems to have won the first round. A furious Mortimer swears that he’ll never stop trying to avenge his friend. He goes on the hunt for Olrik, but information is scarce. Sheik Abdel Razek, an old man with mysterious powers, protects him against Doctor Grossgrabenstein’s crew. The doctor is a devoted Egyptologist who has undertaken excavations not far from the Great Pyramid. Strange happenings occur and Mortimer may sometimes feel like he’s losing his way in this investigation that will lead him into the darkest depths of the Great Pyramid.

Overall, this third volume is one of the better books in the series so far. We get to find out just how accomplished a storyteller Edgar P Jacobs as he hit stride in this installment. The story by Jacobs is dense, smart, and well developed. The art by Jacobs is vivid and elegant. By volume’s end, we find two friends closer than ever.

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

Review: The Adventures of Blake & Mortimer: Mystery of the Great Pyramid

One of the most overused tropes in procedural stories is the “avenge my death” device, which makes you either hate or love the protagonist. Within the reader, there is a part of them that wishes for them to catch the killer. The other side, and the one which is more pragmatic or pessimistic depending on your outlook, knows there is no way to catch the killer. Both sides are extremes, and ones that do neither any good.

The one eventual outcome that usually occurs is that the death of the murderer doesn’t ever satisfy the need for avenging. As the loss remains and when they do catch the guilty party, it is never what they expect it to be. This revenge drives the character and sometimes it doesn’t pay off. In the second book of the Blake and Mortimer series, we find a mournful Mortimer, who has lost his best friend and is hot on the trail of Olrik, the man who killed his partner.

We find Mortimer and Nasir on their way to Cairo, as they arrive they son find that they are being followed, as trouble is close by. As he visits a friend who is an Egyptologist, Professor Ahmed, as they soon uncover hidden in the texts of some artifacts, rumblings about a secret treasure. As Mortimer gets closer to finding the clues to where the treasure is kept, his archenemy, Olrik, catches up t him and looks to take the sacred texts revealing the necessary clues. Soon, Olrik and Mortimer get in a skirmish, leaving Mortimer unconscious and the local police looking for both. Eventually Mortimer escapes and what follows is a cat and mouse game between the two, which leaves some casualties in its wake. By book’ end, some dreadful news reaches our heroes and they are forever changed by it.

Overall, an excellent comic which sets this book apart from other globe trotting adventures series of it’s time. The story by Edgar P. Jacobs is fun and action packed. The art by Jacobs is gorgeous. Altogether a great installment which is reminds of the serials that the book is inspired by.

Story: Edgar P. Jacobs Art: Edgar P. Jacobs
Story: 9.6 Art: 9.4 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Blake and Mortimer Volume 1: The Yellow M

If you have read a newspaper, or an article, or watched the news, somewhere along the line, you may have heard the name “Banksy.” The mysterious person is known for their artwork exhibited around the world. Their pieces are lauded, and their appearances are more “slight of hand,” making the proximity to the art a unique experience. This is not the first time the world has been fascinated with someone anonymous.

Jack The Ripper and the Zodiac Killer are two other examples and multi-media has provided audiences the ability to follow the clues of those attempting to unmask these individuals. Its created an industry on its own it seems. Media has helped the world became even more fascinated with mysterious figures and the world seems to always gravitate to their public actions, no matter how disgusting they may be.

I always wondered how someone like Banksy would do if he alerted the police before he committed one of his masterpieces? This is what Edgar Jacobs looks to uncover in the first volume of Blake and Mortimer Volume 1: The Yellow M.

We are taken to London, where the royal guard go about their rounds, when they hear a laughter off in the distance, it is the Yellow Mark, and he has the stolen the royal Crown. This is where we meet the retired police captain, Francis Blake and his genius partner, Professor Philip Mortimer, who catches the ire of the Yellow Mark as he taunts the duo as he taunts the establishment. This doesn’t deter the two from stopping this mysterious figure from hurting anyone, each crime, comes with even more dire consequences each time. Professor Mortimer eventually finds out exactly who is the man behind the Yellow Mark, but gets imprisoned by the person in question.  By book’s end, Blake has come to the rescue of his partner as the end the criminal enterprise of the Yellow Mark.

Overall, a fun graphic novel, that at first reminds of Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal in Sherlock, but both characters are forces of nature. The story by Jacobs is layered, intense, and action packed. Altogether, a story that is more contemporary than one might believe at first glance.

Story: Edgar P. Jacobs Art: Edgar P. Jacobs
Story: 9.5 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.2 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Buck Danny Vol. 8 Black Cobra

The 1980s were the heyday of action movies. The decade brought movie fans the many film adventures of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Steven Siegal, Jean Claude Van Damme, and Sylvester Stallone. They made a genre into a multimillion dollar industry, one that would generate imitators and classics all their own. One of those movies that became a franchise without much staging as they do now, was Iron Eagle.

For those uninitiated, the movie revolves around “A young pilot plans a rescue mission when his father, an Air Force Colonel, is shot down over enemy territory and captured.”. The movie, although having a shaky unrealistic plot, had some of the best aerial dogfights I have ever seen in films. They rarely make movies like those anymore, as much of the narrative being told are about drones. In the eighth volume of Buck Danny, we find our crew on a mission to rescue while posing as Russian pilots.

We catch up with our intrepid crew as new mission is a t their feet, as a stealth fighter has gone missing over enemy territory and America doesn’t want them to know its our aircraft. Without much notice Buck and his crew are called into action, as they soon learn the mission and how they will enter the airspace, flying Russian Migs. The crew eventually embark on a night mission, one that will get them closer to retrieving any trace that the Americans were there and hopefully the pilot. By book’s end, a last-minute betrayal leaves the crew at wits end, but quick thinking by Buck saves the crew and the pilot.

Overall, an excellent book where Francis Bergese has only improved on his storytelling and his art.The story by Bergese is fun, layered and will have the readers glued to the pages. The art by Bergese has him improving on his lightning, as he has definitely made a turn for the better. Altogether, a book which will have the reader digging for their Blu Ray of Top Gun.

Story: Francis Bergese Art: Francis Bergese
Story: 9.6 Art: 9.8 Overall: 9.75 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Djinn Volume 5 Africa

When it comes to 80s movies, many thoughts run across many people’s heads with numerous adjectives describing the ridiculousness of many of their premises. Who can forget Red Dawn, a film that’s both far fetched and plausible considering the hostile geo-political climate of today’s world relations. Then there is Weird Science, a screwball comedy where two boys accidentally create the perfect woman. Then there is the Tom Hanks fantasy Big, which is both fun and melancholy while not forgetting the innocence of childhood.

The movies from that decade that seem to hold a special place throughout generations are those romantic comedies. One of the best is Money Can’t Buy Me Love featuring a then unknown Patrick Dempsey as an awkward teenager navigating puberty and love. Then there is Daryl Hannah and Peter Gallagher’s Summer Lovers where they are an American couple who engage in a relationship with a young French woman in Greece. In the fifth volume of Djinn, our characters embark on a new escapade much like the characters in Summer Lovers, one which takes them to Africa and even more stimulating opportunities.

We find Lady Nelson, mostly unharmed but the rest of her party annihilated, while both Lord Nelson and jade are missing, when Charles Augery, a friendly face supervisor at the local trading post, somewhere in Africa. WE soon find out that the two had been kidnapped by a local tribe whose main attribute is that their affliction is leprosy. We soon find out through a series of flashbacks, that Jade, through her benevolence, also may lead to her fate, as the tribe wants to purify her by fire. By book’s end, Jade awakens an ancient deity that may wield some unknown power that she has unleashed onto the world.

Overall, this volume resets the series, offering readers a different mystery on in which the reader gets entrenched in a jungle adventure. The story by Jean Dufaux is enigmatic, perilous, and enjoyable. The art by Ana Miralles is elegant and vivid. Altogether, a great installment in an already stellar series.

Story: Jean Dufaux Art: Ana Miralles
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Buck Danny Volume 7 Missing in Action

Tom Hanks is one of the most iconic actors of recent memory, who fits a type of actor, who rarely get celebrated, the character actor. Very few including Hanks com to mind other than Samuel L Jackson and Luis Guzman. All these actors blend right into heir character without any expectation for fanfare, yet that is where their star quality lies, in the life they give their characters. One of Hanks’ most memorable characters just so happens to exist in real life, Charlie Wilson.

The movie, Charlie Wilson’s War was about a sly politician who took a special interest in the war in Afghanistan, one that would have an adverse effect. The full force of that effect would not bee seen for years what was used as a weapon became the biggest reason no one has been successful against the insurgents for years to come. Much of what makes it difficult to fight in that country, is the terrain. The seventh volume of Buck Danny goes undercover in Afghanistan to rescue an agent lost behind enemy lines.

We catchup with our heroes, back stateside, as they enjoy being back home and keeping up their flight qualifications. They get pulled into the base commander’s office to take on a n undercover mission, one that would test their skills and their humanity. Tumb becomes embedded in another part of the country, not knowing the very person the crew was looking for was right beside him all along. By book’s end, Buck uncovers secret double agent and the CIA agent is recovered.

Overall, both a fun and fast paced installment to this underrated series about fighter pilots. The story by Francis Bergese is action packed and entertaining. The art by Bergese is joy to look at. Altogether, so far, the best book in the series, as Bergese shows his expertise as both the artist and writer of this book.

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: 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

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