Written by Stephen Desberg, Art by Enrico Marini
Okay, another volume of The Scorpion. And it’s pretty much exactly the same as the previous three. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. Merely that the fun to be had from The Scorpion is in the repeated thrills, something I’ve pointed out before. So if you’ll forgive me a little lazy cutting and pasting…… Of Volumes One and Two I said this:
“Another one of those “never see this sort of things in US comics” type of books. A swashbuckling tale of Renaissance Rome; Brigands, mysterious exotic women, evil Catholic Cardinals attempting to take over the Papacy.”
“So perhaps we’re looking at some sort of Italian 15th Century James Bond here? It shouldn’t be seen necessarily as a criticism because across the entire first volume … I had a tremendous time. The Scorpion gets drawn into a plot by the dastardly Cardinal Trebaldi (boo, hiss) to establish himself as the new Pope. There are lusty maidens and fearsome armoured monks, there are swordfights and plenty of them, there is religious hypocrisy and betrayal, daring escapes across rooftops and on horseback and plenty more.”
I’d found myself flagging a little with Volume two though, a little too much of the same for my tastes, although reading Volume Three, brought me back on board, proving it’s something best enjoyed in small, regular doses:
“…put it in a single book, just 46 pages long, and it does rather satisfy, albeit in a read, enjoy, forget, type of way. Everything’s done rather well – the action races along, the drama sort of works, the characters are all suitably sexy and mysterious (good guys), nefarious and boo-hiss evil (bad guys) or sultry, mysterious and prone to double crossing (every woman that isn’t a nun).”
Which brings us to Volume 4. And my opinion hasn’t changed one whit. It’s become one of those perfect bath reads. Stick a bit of music on, settle back in a hot bath, read Scorpion. Lightweight it may be, predictable it may be, but it’s still a lovely way to spend an hour.
(Swashbuckling action from the Scorpion, with artist Marini showing just how nice his figure work is, just before he gets to show how nice his action sequences are. From Scorpion Volume 4, published by Cinebook)
This time round The Scorpion and his friends start out trapped in a seemingly inescapable sealed room (although in the world of The Scorpion, friends, especially the female kind tend to betray and attempt to kill him regularly throughout a story).
There’s no surprises here though – it takes a mere handful of pages and another uneasy alliance to get them out and back on the trail of the Sacred Cross of Saint Peter, something The Scorpion needs to discredit the diabolical Cardinal (and now Pope) Trebaldi (boo, hiss).
Finding his mission for the Cross intertwined with the secrets, and the treasures, of the Knights Templar, our motley band wend their way through the Holy Land, pursued by Cardinal Trebaldi’s henchman Rochnan and his warrior monks. Expect more devious dealings, swashbuckling fights, betrayals and snappy dialogue all the way.
(The big bad villain of The Scorpion tales – Cardinal, and now Pope, Trebaldi. A perfect cartoon delight of a villain. From Scorpion volume 4, published by Cinebook)
It’s formulaic but hugely entertaining stuff, throwaway in the best sense of the word. Desberg writes it as a Saturday morning serial adventure, something that links it, yet again, with Spielberg, Lucas and Indiana Jones.
And Marini’s artwork is suitably dynamic, lush and just plain attractive but also does a very good job indeed of keeping the pace of the story motoring along, whether it’s swashbuckling swordfights or devious machinations he’s called upon to draw.
It’s not deep, it’s not profound, but The Scorpion is an absolutely enjoyable romp of a comic. And one I’ll continue to enjoy, quite possibly at bathtime yet again.