Review of THE ADVENTURES OF BLAKE & MORTIMER: THE SARCOPHAGI OF THE SIXTH CONTINENT
Written by: Yves Sente
Art: Andre Juillard
Published by Cinebook
Review by Stewart Loud
In the latest book publisher, Cinebook, sent me to review, Philip Mortimer and his homosexual lover, Francis Blake, pit their wits against the masked Indian mincer, Emperor Ashoka and his army of communist soldiers and Baboons as he attempts to take revenge upon Mortimer and the British empire as a whole for their past indescretions against him and his beloved India!
Ok the two title characters aren’t actually gay lovers but you could be forgiven for thinking they are. I’ve heard people argue in the past that famous fictional duo’s like Sherlock Holmes and Watson or Burt and Ernie off Sesame Street must have been gay because of the nature of their relationship and always laughed it off as over analysing them but seriously, the people who say that sort of thing would have a freaking field day with this pair! The opening flashback to their time in India as young men has them buying incredibly heart felt romantic gifts for male childhood friends that they’ve spent years thinking about during their time growing up apart and climbing in and out of each others bedroom windows at night. Then when it reverts to the stories present tense (1958) we see Blake, rushing into Mortimers, bedroom in the middle of the night to comfort him after he had a nightmare before they both sit and have a lovely breakfast together in their pyjamas at a small table in the flat they share.
Before you all start shouting “Homophobe!” at your computer screen, I honestly don’t have a problem with gay couples at all. This is just very odd behaviour for two lead characters that according to the script are supposed to be heterosexual and it needed mentioning.
I pride myself on having a fairly good vocabulary but unfortunately “gay” is about the best word I can think of to describe this book as a whole.
The evil nemesis of the piece, Emperor Ashoka, minces about the place in a turban, silk mask and leopard skin coat like something from the old, Adam West Batman series, telepathically commanding Baboons to attack and intimidate his victims. The dialogue is pretty awful too. I know it’s set in the 40’s and 50’s but I still struggle to believe anyone actually spoke like that. I couldn’t help but think of the British kid, Pip, from Southpark, every time someone ran off a cringe worth line like:
“Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Francis Percy Blake. May I know the name of the brave countryman who came to my help before this strange man’s intervention? =)”
Maybe the script lost something in the translation from French but it doesn’t really get much better than this.
The simplistic art style and harmless content did make me think it was aimed at children to begin with so I thought maybe that was why I wasn’t getting into it but I seriously doubt children of any ages would have the patience to get through it, I certainly struggled.
One of the more infuriating aspects of the book is all the panels of text describing in great detail what we can already see happening in the picture. It’s like watching a film with someone sat next to you describing each scene to you as it happens. Kind of defeats the point of it being a comic.
Yes there’s a story in there somewhere. Emperor Ashoka is really upset with the British for colonising India and he’s absolutely furious with Mortimer for allegedly causing the suicide of his young daughter so he hatches an incredible plan to put another one of Mortimer’s arch Nemesis’s in a sarcophagus like contraption and project their angry thoughts half way across the globe to Brussels in the form of some sort of energy attack, causing Blake and Mortimer to run around shrieking like a pair of nine year old girls.
I can read children’s stories and enjoy them. Or, if I don’t like them, I can still look at them objectively and see that if I was still only twelve years old, I would enjoy them. Unfortunately I really can’t think of anything to recommend this book. Maybe for schools to use to teach kids to read?
If this had come out 30 years ago then I could probably forgive it a little for being so bad but according to the inside cover, it was originally published in 2003 which amazes me. Kind of like Tin Tin, but without any of the character or charm.