By Goscinny and Morris
Another Lucky Luke – another classy little tale of the wild west.
You all know Lucky Luke – or you would if you lived on the continent where the adventures of Lucky Luke; the fastest (and coolest) cowboy in the west has been delighting readers for decades. He’s the quintessential wandering cowboy, riding into town, righting wrongs, sorting out problems and riding out on his faithful horse with a smart-mouth Jolly Jumper.
A quiet man, unflappable, cool, calm and collected. And charitable too….
(Lucky Luke – nicest cowboy in the world? From Lucky Luke Volume 26: The Bounty Hunter, by Morris and Goscinny, published by Cinebook.)
This time round it’s all about Luke’s problems with the greedy and unshakeable bounty hunter Elliot Belt (that’s him on the cover). Belt’s been a bounty hunter for a long time, and he’s one of the best. But, as we’re shown early on, bounty hunting garners only slightly more respect than that given to the bountys they’re after.
(Bounty Hunters – one level up from the crooks. From Lucky Luke Volume 26: The Bounty Hunter, by Morris and Goscinny, published by Cinebook.)
Luke, with Belt in tow, winds up on the hunt for a missing prize stallion, trying to get to the alleged Cheyanne horse thief before the horse’s owner catches up with him and before Belt triggers an all out war with the reservation after rounding up a small army of money loving bounty hunters after the $100,000 bounty.
I’ve looked at three of these Cinebook Luke volumes so far (here and here) and yes, The Bounty Hunter may be is “just” another Lucky Luke story, but there’s a damn good reason why Luke’s adventures have been in print for so many years with so many readers. There’s a completely relaxed pace and style to Luke, a sure sign of two creators completely in control of their creation and the creative process.
(A little debate between Luke and Belt. From Lucky Luke Volume 26: The Bounty Hunter, by Morris and Goscinny, published by Cinebook.)
Like so many of these continuing European sagas, there’s not that much that happens with the main character – after all, Lucky Luke is Lucky Luke. We all know his character, and there’s not much going to change from volume to volume. Instead, all the drama and characterisation comes from the supporting cast and the fun we have with their interactions with Luke.
It might be formulaic, but like I said with The Stagecoach, there’s a certain joy in that:
“But this is one of those cases where formulaic is simply repeating an essential, simple, yet rather brilliantly executed central idea. To complain would be to complain that Calvin And Hobbes was formulaic, or the best superhero stories, or countless others. The brilliance is in the idea, the brilliance comes with the creators, on top of their game mixing up the elements slightly and delivering a subtle riff on the last story. Formulaic? certainly. Does it matter? Absolutely not.”
Reading Luke for me is a strange thing. I don’t get the same buzz as I get from Asterix and the slapstick fun it gives me. I don’t get the same adventure I get from Tintin. But there’s a real laid-back and relaxed enjoyment to be had in the very laid-back adventures of the man who shoots faster than his own shadow.