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Monday, January 3, 2011

The Affair of the Necklace. Edgar P. Jacobs. Jerome Saincantin (Translator). Cinebook (2010)

An engaging and enjoyable crime and action story. A necklace one owned by Marie Antoinette has been restored and the owner plans to donate it to Queen Elizabeth, much to the disgust and annoyance of the French public. Francis Blake and Philip Mortimer are in Paris to testify at a hearing for the arch criminal Olrik. Olrik escapes from custody and launches a bold attempt to steal the necklace. Blake and Mortimer attempt to stop Olrik and it emerges that that there are other parties interested in the necklace also. The plot is nicely set up, the reveals are smart and the action is fast and loud.
The most surprising aspect to this comic is how well it works, the attention to detail and the sheer craft that have gone into it lift it up. The story is very straightforward the pleasure lies in how it is told. The cast are given space to breathe and establish themselves as individual voices rather than puppets of a plot. The triangle between Blake, Mortimer and Olrik is used to give some bite and force to the story, they are old opponents and their encounters have the edge of enmity.
The art is there to serve the story and does not draw attention to itself. Still the multiple details do catch the readers eye and add greatly to the depth of the story, they anchor it firmly in a time and place.
The comic is old-fashioned but far from dusty, the action uses pace instead of gore to drive ahead, the villain is nicely cold blooded and ruthless all the same. Great fun.

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