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STEWARTS SLATE: REVIEWS OF LARGO WINCH vol 7-8 and THE BLUECOATS book 4

14 May
This week I’ve reviewed a few titles originally published in French and now released in English by “CINEBOOK The 9th Art Publisher”

Review of LARGO WINCH vol 7: GOLDEN GATE and vol 8: SHADOW
Writer: Jean Van Hamme
Art: Philippe Francq
Originally in French and now published in English by CINEBOOK
No super heroes, zombies, aliens, costumed vigilantes, vampires or giant transforming robots in this comic, just an incredibly captivating story with instantly likeable characters and outstanding artwork. Say hello to Largo Winch “anti-establishment, womaniser, wanderer, iconoclast, fighter”, all round great guy and, as it turns out, incredibly handy with a knife or his fists. Did he used to be a commando or something?
Set in the present day without a mutant virus or apocalyptic war in sight and following the exploits of a guy in his late twenties who inherits a massive corporation worth $10 billion, this isn’t the sort of comic I usually read but, having finished the exceptionally well written story that these two books collect, I’m very glad I did.

As per usual I don’t want to give too much away but the story sees Largo Winch attempting to unravel the mystery of a suspicious producer piling money into a cheesy tv show being shot by Largo’s tv company, W9, in what appears to be a convoluted attempt at tax evasion.
What begins as a slightly mundane crime drama quickly becomes a seriously gripping tale of intrigue, corruption and murder with a surprisingly large dose of action thrown in for good measure as Winch uncovers more of the dark secrets behind the shadowy group backing the laughably bad “Golden Gate” tv series and they in turn take steps to discourage his investigation. Not to dissimilar from something you might find in a Bond novel, with beautiful women, exotic locations and ruthless casino owners, this would make a great film.
Philippe Francq’s art is like nothing you’ll see in anything currently being published by Marvel or DC right now. Every character is instantly distinguishable from one another with their unique, detailed and expertly drawn facial features and physical appearance. The many beautiful women of the books are made so without them having unrealistic proportions and just as much effort has gone into the lush, complex and technically brilliant scenery. Seriously, a lot of comic artists focus mainly on making the characters of a story look good but every aspect of every scene drawn by Francq in these books seems to be almost jumping off the page with character and detail.
Even though these were the first parts of the series I’ve read, I didn’t have any problem getting to grips with storyline or the varied and interesting characters. Winch himself is a strong, Bruce Wayne type. His entourage of friends include Simon, the slightly dim witted Fonz of the story, Freddy, the battle scarred, capable pilot and Miss Pennywinkle, one of his more educated advisors.
If what I’ve described here sounds like a genre of story you usually enjoy then you’ll certainly enjoy this one, and equally, if like me you usually read science fiction, horror or action books and you want to try something completely different, then give these a try. I really was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed them.
SCORE 8/10
Review of THE BLUE COATS vol 4: THE GREENHORN
Writer: Raoul Cauvin
Art: WillyLambil
Originally in French and now published in English by CINEBOOK
An old school comedy book set during the American civil war and written and illustrated in the same vein as the old Asterix comics, The Bluecoats sees it’s two main characters both cavalrymen in the Union army, Cornelius Chesterfield, a courageous and steadfast sergeant and Corporal Blutch, the insubordinate Sgt. Bilco style character getting into fights and arguments over women, revealing some controversial and cowardly ways of surviving battles and attempting to avoid diplomatic disasters with the local Indian chief.
With simplistic art and characters, this isn’t the most engaging title out there but it is fairly chuckleworthy in places. Nice if you’re looking for a light hearted read to pass the time on the train or something but don’t expect a gripping storyline or exciting action. Perhaps a good one to introduce younger children to comic books.

SCORE 6/10