Blake & Mortimer: The Voronov Plot – don’t hate me for this but….

Published On January 1, 2011 | By Richard Bruton | Comics, Reviews

Blake & Mortimer Volume 8: The Voronov Plot

By Yves Sente and André Juillard


I was going to simply not review this, just point you at the last review of Blake & Mortimer and tell you this was just the same, but dammit, the book took me so long to read I had to at least say something.

First a quick recap: Mortimer’s the red bearded nuclear physicist, Blake’s the chiselled and suave head of MI5, and together they find themselves pitted against the best scientific cold war threats Jacobs could invent. From 1950 to 1971, Jacobs produced 11 volumes that are now held up as classics of Euro-comics and the ligne claire style. Following Jacobs’ death in 1987 Bob De Moor completed Jacobs’ final story and from 1996 the responsibility of continuing Jacobs’ legacy fell to two writer/artist teams; Jean Van Hamme & Ted Benoit and Yves Sente & Andre Juillard.

The Voromov Plot follows Blake & Mortimer desperately attempting to track down a batch of deadly extraterrestrial bacteria brought back to Earth following a failed Soviet rocket flight.

(Thrilling action sequences and gorgeous art. But still unsatisfying. From The Voronov Plot by Sente and Juillard, published by Cinebook)

And the actual story here is a rather good one, full of interesting twists and turns, action, adventure, and a fair old slice of good old fashioned intrigue. And the art is certainly quite simply lovely – Andre Juillard has taken all that was great about Jacobs’ artwork and gone with it. There are differences certainly, but not so much as it’s that noticeable.

But it’s Sente’s words, oh so many of them, that really ruined it for me, and made it into a dreary, drudge of a read. There’s just so many words on every single page that the pacing is completely destroyed. The good plot and interesting ideas are lost to me, subsumed by my increasing frustration with the sheer volume of words per panel. It’s lessened in the action sequences a little, but generally the pacing is absolutely off. The words are too much, overwhelming everything.

(Again, it looks beautiful. Or at least what you can see under all those words looks beautiful. From The Voronov Plot by Sente and Juillard, published by Cinebook)

And I’m well aware that many of you reading this are going to be thinking how wrong I am, how Jacobs’ original was very word heavy as well and Sente is merely continuing the style of Jacobs.

And yes, I know. And like I said back here when reviewing SOS Meteors by Jacobs – I didn’t like it that much when he did it either:

“…. More often than not here it just doesn’t work for me – there’s too many times when it drowns in it’s own dialogue, stalls when it should be action packed and just had me slogging through it rather than enjoying it.”

“…..But for every moment of enjoyment there were too many where I found myself rather (say it quietly and maybe they wont notice) bored by it all. It’s good, certainly from a purely technical viewpoint it’s quite marvellous work. I can see why it’s beloved, but it just doesn’t do it for me.”

So there you go, this new Blake and Mortimer will be, for many of you, a perfect continuation of everything that made Jacobs’ originals such a classic work.

But for me, it merely repeats everything I didn’t particularly like about Jacobs’ work, and despite me really wanting to enjoy it, despite me knowing and acknowledging how technically great it is, it just didn’t work for me. There’s a big bit of me that really wishes it would – and hopefully, for you, perhaps it will.

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About The Author

Richard Bruton

– Started in comics retail aged 16 at Nostalgia & Comics, Birmingham. Now located in Yorkshire, he’s written for the Forbidden Planet International Blog since 2007. Specialising in UK Comics and All-Ages comics, Richard’s day job in a primary school allowed him to build the best children’s graphic novel library in the country.

5 Responses to Blake & Mortimer: The Voronov Plot – don’t hate me for this but….

  1. Garen says:

    The wordiness is a tradition I wish they hadn’t continued. Perhaps it was of its time when Jacobs did it (and they are classics), so you can offer some lenience in his direction – but there’s no excuse now. It actually seems worse than ever in the Voronov Plot.

    • Richard says:

      It’s a tradition I’ve always found slightly offputting. Even (and I shall merely whisper this) in bits of Tintin. I’m reading Adele Blanc-Sec by Tardi and it’s a pain seeing his gorgeous artwork absolutely obscured by word balloons. Not as bad as Voronov Plot by any means – at least Tardi allows his action sequences to stand on their own, but it’s still there in the slower parts.

  2. Garen says:

    I don’t mind a bit of wordiness (guilty!), but it’s the massive lecture-dumps; anything that puts a brick wall into the pace of a scene, whether it’s a deliberately slower-set conversation or, even worse, a more actiony sequence.

  3. Grumpy Frenchman says:

    I can understand a certain amount of frustration when having to read that much text, especially for readers who may have been raised on rather different fare. I’m not saying you can’t adapt – merely that we’re all shaped to some degree by what we grew up with.

    B&M is a series I didn’t really know until a couple of years ago, and which has slowly grown on me. In its defence, I will merely say this: the name of the game in Franco-Belgian comics is diversity. There are literally hundreds of different series published every year in every possible genre, graphic style, literary style, etc… that you could think of. B&M is an excellent series, but it does belong to the ‘wordy’ category. It’s not so much a failing as a characteristic once has to take into account – and choose something else if it’s too annoying.

    Of course, that’s only an option if you have access to all those other choices. Cinebook’s doing its best, but there’s a lot of material to cover! ^_^