by Jean Van Hamme and Philippe Aymond
In many ways this is merely a female equivalent to Van Hamme’s Largo Winch series, featuring as it does a privileged hero character with a mysterious and somewhat shady past and a nasty habit of getting themselves into all manner of trouble. But seeing as Van Hamme writes such good thrillers around this premise and seeing how much I really, really enjoy Largo Winch I was rather looking forward to settling back into this one and enjoying another brilliantly crafted Euro-comic thriller. And Lady S, whilst it’s not up there with Largo Winch, is still a great thriller.
The Lady S in question is Suzan Fitzroy, adopted daughter and principal assistant to James Fitzroy, the roving US ambassador in Europe. But the story everyone knows; of a New Zealander adopted by James Fitzroy after Suzan’s parents died in a car crash is a complete fabrication. Suzan Fitzroy is actually Shania Rivkas, an Estonian whose parents were murdered by the KGB, and who barely made it out of the Soviet Union alive. A chance meeting on a train with the Fitzroys eventually turns her away from a life on the run, of petty crime and constant danger. She’s adopted by Fitzroy, who’s links with her family go far deeper than Suzan first realised.
(The moment Suzan Fitzroy’s new life disintegrates and she realises a figure from her past is not as dead as she believed. From Lady S by Van Hamme and Aymond. Published by Cinebook.)
But her past life is about to come back to haunt her and a meeting with a fellow thief she thought had died many years ago brings this secret past life back to haunt her. She’s contacted by a mysterious “international agency” that “works towards world peace” – and they have enough on Suzan/Shania to ruin her life and her high flying ambassador father. So Suzan becomes Lady S, a very high class spy circulating in the highest diplomatic circles.
(“And now, explain your plan.” That’s the moment Suzan Fitzroy becomes Lady S, as her mysterious blackmailer walks away. From Lady S by Van Hamme and Aymond. Published by Cinebook.)
Here’s To Suzie spends an awful lot of the book filling us in on the intriguing life of Suzan and how she came to be Lady S. As you might expect from Van Hamme it’s all done wonderfully well, flashbacks are seamlessly interspersed throughout the book and the diplomatic settings and international intrigue is set out with pace and excitement – albeit a more sedate pace than the average Winch tale – no explosions or car chases here. It may be a variation on his Largo Winch theme, but it’s a good one.
Likewise, the art by Aymond is well done throughout, the nearest British equivalent that came readily to mind is Steve Dillon, and Aymond is more than capable of covering everything Van Hamme throws his way – from glittering society balls to escaping across frozen wastes.
Of all the new discoveries I’ve made through Cinebook I really believe that Jean Van Hamme is my favourite. I’m now at the point where I see his name and I know I’m in for a thriller far, far better than anything I’ll read in traditional US comics. And Lady S, although it may not be quite up there with Largo Winch is no exception to this rule.
Richard Bruton is currently humming the theme from The Avengers