by Stephen Desberg and Bernard Vrancken
Another one of those great Cinebook reprints of European comic work that can only be European. That’s no criticism either. After all, how many stories about highly specialised IRS operatives do you think US comics are ever going to come up with? It’s a ridiculously glorious concept for a story and it’s every bit as much fun as I’d hoped it was going to be after reading the blurb on the back of the book:
“Larry B. Max is a rare specialist from a little-known branch of the I.R.S. (Internal Revenue Service), the all-powerful tax-collecting agency of the United States. Reading tax-evasion and money-laundering rings like a virtuoso pianist would read a sheet of Mozart, he has every technological method at his disposal to find links between high finance and high crime. In Taxing Tales, he must look into the particularly delicate case of a rich Jewish-American, known for his involvement in recovering items that were confiscated by the Nazis during WWII.”
(Larry B. Max: Not your run of the mill tax inspector by any means. From I.R.$ volume 1.)
Yes, just like Largo Winch this is another variation on the James Bond theme, something either European comic folks do really well or I’m particularly predisposed to enjoy. Because, as with Largo Winch, I had a blast throughout I.R.$. It’s packed with all the daft action sequences and bizarre plot twists you might expect from an all action special tax inspector but also puts together a solid plot underneath it all regarding the theft of Jewish money from Swiss accounts by the Nazis that allows the dafter elements to work so well.
Cinebook have sensibly, yet again, included two books of I.R.$. in one here, so the Volume presents one complete story. And it’s a very good story at that; Max is drawn into the investigation of the stolen Jewish money after the suspicious death of a man the I.R.S. were investigating. From here Max is embroiled in an action packed romp across Europe that includes blackmail, murder, tax evasion, assassination, Nazi war criminals and of course, the odd beautiful woman or two. But most importantly all of this investigating allows Max plenty of chances to utilise both his gun and his brain, two things he’s awfully good at.
(The tax inspector pulls apart a case just from a tax return or two. Fantastically ridiculous stuff in I.R.$.)
The writing and the art both serve to keep this action thriller moving at a tremendous pace in a very European style. There’s an occasional bit of clunky dialogue, especially when the author’s decide to let Max try out a few Bond style funny quips, but they’re few and far between and in no way spoil the fun of I.R.$. It’s one of those books that will never win any awards, but the greatest recomendation I can give you on this one is that it’s a book you’ll sit and devour in one sitting and finish with a thoroughly entertained smile over your face.