By Goscinny and Morris
Like clockwork, every couple of months a new volume of Morris & Goscinny’s Lucky Luke appears from Cinebook. Euro-classic, lots of fun, two brilliant creators working at their height…. blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. The thing is it’s actually too easy to get complacent with Lucky Luke and there’s precious little excitement about them from us readers. But dammit, there should be – it’s such a good series.
Classic? It doesn’t get any more classic than this.
As is usual with Lucky Luke, the tale focuses on the singularly honourable cowboy, venturing forth across the Wild West, washing up in town on his ever dependable horse Jolly Jumper and ending up solving no end of problems, righting wrongs and putting the bad guys behind bars.
This time the adventure is set just after the end of the Civil War, and Luke moseys into the town of Los Palitos City where he discovers that his timing couldn’t be worse – he arrives just after they’ve experienced the delights of Joss Jamon and his gang – a bunch of ex-soldiers of dubious repute and character; thieves, scalpers, crooks, conmen and more.
But Jamon makes a calamitous mistake, destined to bring him down in the end – he frames Lucky Luke for the damage and trouble his gang have caused. Luke manages to negotiate a deal with the townsfolk, promising that he’ll return in six months either bringing Jamon’s gang to justice or presenting himself to be hanged.
(“You won’t go and hang yourself somewhere else?” Brilliant dialogue, as you expect, from Lucky Luke Versus Joss Jamon by Goscinny and Morris, published by Cinebook)
And from then on, we’re playing a long game, with Luke tracking Jamon and the gang down to Frontier City, where they’ve fleeced the townsfolk so badly that the only way to extort more money from them is to go into the ever so noble field of politics.
And now newly elected Mayor Jamon seemingly has the town exactly where he wants it. The only thing in his way is Lucky Luke, who’s made it his mission to bring the mayor down, free the town, and get back to Los Palitos City before his six months runs out.
Of course he wins in the end, but it’s the getting there, with a series of comic misadventures, slapstick, verbal sparring and lots of playing around with the politics of the situation, that provides a great deal of enjoyment – as they always do – quality work, classic work, brilliant fun.
This was only the 11th volume from series creator and illustrator Morris and just the second volume where Morris worked with writer Rene Goscinny on what would become a near 30 year run of stories widely held as the best of the lot. But Morris and Goscinny’s template is so effective, efficient, brilliant and simple and their skills so great that even early on it works; simplistically and beautifully.
It’s actually all too easy to skate over how good the whole thing is, but especially easy to forget just how beautiful Morris’ artwork is. I had, until I saw the art scanned in for this review in all it’s oversized glory on the screen. Morris’ work is simply stunning. I mean. just look at this panel of Luke speeding away on Jumper:
And looking afresh at Lucky Luke, slowing down and really properly absorbing the story and taking in all of that lovely art – it’s every bit the classic that it’s always described as – it just took a step back to really notice it.