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Sunday, April 17, 2011

S.O.S. Meteors. Edgar P. Jacobs (Writer and Artist). Jerome Saincantin (Translator). Cinebook Ltd. (2009)

A very well crafted science fiction adventure. Extreme weather has been plaguing Western Europe and Professor Phillip Mortimer goes to Paris to meet with his friend, Professor Labrousse, the chief French meteorologist. After his taxi crashes, the driver vanished and he nearly drowns, Mortimer finally arrives at Prof. Labrousse's house. Mortimer has some suspicions about the cause of the weather and when he finds himself a suspect in the disappearance of the taxi driver decides to investigate on his own account. Captain Francis Blake of British Military Intelligence is also on Paris on a mission and when his friend Mortimer disappears and his case seems to be related to the weather, Blake finds he has stepped on a hornets nest. The plot is very well set up, the reveals are clever, the action is excellent, the conclusion is thoroughly enjoyable.
The story is very well crafted both as an adventure and science fiction,both elements are cleverly woven together. There is a strong big idea in controlling the weather, the comic book science that underlies the plan is cleverly set up and delivered with the suitable degree of seriousness. It is also hitched nicely to a political agenda which gives it an edge over the the anticipated mad genius trope. The action is superbly choreographed, one of the great pleasures is that no one has it easy, both the heroes and the villains have to fight hard for what they want. Each has hair's breath escapes and face competent and forceful opponents, this makes the struggle considerably more interesting. The end may not be in doubt, the journey is unexpected.
The art is a joy, the detail in each panel is a pleasure, it never overcrowds the story nor slows the momentum, it gives a solid context to the action. There is a sequence involving a flight and fight over Paris rooftops in a rainstorm that is a model of pacing and clarity. The cast are full of life and energy, they are clearly individual, down to the extras, and push the story forward with vigour. There is a little bit of telling and showing in the comic, it is more of a period charm than a distraction. Great fun, first rate comic storytelling.

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