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