By Marini & Desberg
Finally we get to learn the truth of the Scorpion’s birth and what this means for the families that have held the wealth and power of Rome for centuries.
The Scorpion has been captured by the odious Tiberio and Mejai tries, but fails, to follow. With Hussar injured, the Scorpion must face his fate alone, and yet what he encounters is not what he expected, and he is instead propelled down a different path and headlong into a confrontation with the Trebaldis that will settle the question of his birth once and for all.
What with injuries, political manoeuvring, long-held grudges, leper guards and ever-deperate measures from all sides, this volume cranks up the tension all the way though to the final page. Cleverly crafted by Desberg and with fantastic art by Marini, this is one of comicdom’s greatest books. The colouring alone contributes massively to the books atmosphere, so scenes such as the clash within St Peter's Basilica are all the more powerful. If you’re not reading it you should be.
And if you liked that: Desberg is also responsible for writing Cinebook’s IR$
Scorpion Vol. 8, The : In The Name of the Son (Book)
By Guy Delisle
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
I’ve enjoyed Guy Delisle’s gag strip books, but hadn’t yet dipped my toe into his travelogues, so thought I’d start with Burma Chronicles as my Grandpa served out there during WW2 as a radar operator. His stories, some of which were shocking, some of which were touching, painted a picture of a country that I couldn’t place in the modern world and certainly not against the news stories of its recent history. This seemed like a good way in, seeing the country through the eyes of a cartoonist as he adjusts to life there with his wife (working for an aid agency) and son.
Because the country was under military control while they were there it’s a curious mix of the warmth and friendliness of its inhabitants and the more obscure and repressive nature of its controls and restrictions, such as the brutally mangled newspapers and magazines that are clipped and holed to remove anything the junta would object to.
Delisle tells his story in a diary-like manner, taking one or two pages to depict an experience in a comic strip format, and recording differences, similarities and surprises. The aim isn’t to hit you with a punchline each time (although some situations deliver one) but to leave you with an impression of day-to-day life. As Delisle’s wife is often working away on the aid projects he is left in charge (sort of - you’ll see what I mean) of their infant son, and trips out onto the streets generate much interest amongst neighbours, but should he go out alone the same neighbours treat him as if he’s invisible. He records what it’s like to deal with the heat and humidity, how he copes with ex-pat socialising, and the coincidence of living a few streets away from Aung San Suu Kyi while she was still under house arrest. He also records his efforts to teach animation to some interested locals and how this almost backfires in a potentially devastating manner, to illustrate just how fragile the freedoms were at the time.
It’s not a book full of belly laughs, although there are plenty of humorous moments contrasting with the bleaker, more difficult ones. Delisle’s observations paint a respectful picture of a people living in difficult times, offering an insightful look into a secretive country. Things may have changed in Burma now, but this is still an important and enlightening tale of one man’s experiences of that moment in history.
And if you liked that: Guy Delisle has more travelogue books under his belt - look them up
By Rodolphe & Leo
I look forward to reading plenty of titles, but it’s not often I get the buzz of excitement and anticipation that I did when I first saw there was to be a new Leo book. His Worlds of Aldebaran series is an audacious and compelling story of exploration coupled with an inventive speculation as to the possibilities and potential of life beyond our Earth. However, in Kenya, he’d be again looking at life’s diversity but using what came before man on our own planet, and this time he would just be drawing the tale as Rodolphe would be providing the writing.
Set in 1940s colonial Kenya the story opens with a mixed group of nationalities on safari, where their arguments and arrogance look as if they will spill out into an utterly different story entirely, but Rodolphe is skilfully setting you up for the twist. The story then moves on to Mombasa and the arrival of a young woman, Katherine Austin, who is to teach at a local school, except it’s clear from the start that she’s been tasked with more than just improving young minds. Unfortunately, it would appear she’s not the only one with an agenda, as two other teachers at the school just might be the eyes and ears of their respective governments or, perhaps, are just intrigued by the young Englishwoman and are just a little too keen for her company.
What solidifies our suspicions is when Katherine mentions the fact of the recent lost safari and ends up as the guest of one of the teachers, Mr Fuchs, on a flight out towards Kilimanjaro. They’re effectively hitching a lift with a pilot making a delivery to an eccentric Italian noble who has built a beautiful but all-but functionless palace out in the bush. Katherine later employs the same pilot to take her out again, but this flight reveals another surprise in the form of a desiccated Diatryma, a giant flightless prehistoric bird. Something very odd is going on on these African plains, but it’s only when Katherine has a close encounter with a survivor of the missing safari that things that at first looked absurd begin to look plausible.
So it’s a very different book to the Aldebaran series, and yet its historical setting in a colonial African country makes it feel other-wordly all the same. Katherine’s a strong female character that drives the story forward with her tenacity, curiousness and courage, and it’s all beautifully set up for maximum intrigue. I was particularly pleased to see they’d added in a Indricotherium, but quite why and how is yet to be explained, although some hints have been dropped, not to mention a large hairy brute seen from the sky.
A problem with looking forward to a book so much is that high expectations can prove a disappointment. Well, not in this case, and I can’t wait for the next one.
And if you liked that: Get hold of Leo’s Aldebaran
By Kirkman, Adlard, Gaudiano & Rathburn
The behemoth that is the Walking Dead keeps ploughing forward, daring to take risks that leave you unsure just who will still be alive by the end of the book. Like the TV show (and indeed Game of Thrones) this makes for a more edge-of-your-seat read now we’re all so acclimatised to the false peril so many characters find themselves in. Even in this volume I couldn’t be 100% sure if Rick Grimes was indeed going to make it, which is saying something this many books in.
So the second book in this story arc picks up with Rick’s community recovering from the explosive attack by Negan and his soldiers and counting the cost of just who and what they’ve lost. Meanwhile Negan thinks of it as a victory as he sees the smoke and fire left in his wake. Eugene’s small team of ammunition makers, based way outside of the community’s walls, are staying silent for fear of attracting the attackers’ attention, but a foolish toilet break (indeed) brings destruction of a different kind and Negan becomes aware of them none the less.
Rick’s plan is to end this as quickly as possible, which means regrouping at the Hilltop and making a stand there. But there’s a lot of supposition and speculation flying about concerning just what Negan will do when, and it ends up being more of case of who will underestimate who first.
This is still a great book because it’s first and foremost about the struggle for survival. The zombies are a threat, but they’re one of many, alongside hunger, exposure and baseball-weilding madmen. It’s character-driven storytelling, so when just about anyone falls foul of a walker or a bullet you feel a sense of loss. If you’ve seen any of the TV show then don’t think for a moment that you don’t need to read these either - the TV show has found its own path, like a parallel universe - so there are still plenty of shocks and surprises to experience here.
And if you liked that: You might like Kirkman’s take on superheroes with Invincible
The Walking Dead Volume 21: All Out War Part 2 (Walking Dead (Image)) (Book)