Reviews: XIII Operation Montecristo….. the end is so, so close….

Published On November 12, 2012 | By Richard Bruton | Comics

XIII Volume 15: Operation Montecristo

By Jean Van Hamme and William Vance


Arrested by the Costaverdean authorities because of pressure from the US, XIII and his friends are awaiting their extradition. Instead, they’re freed by Costaverdean troops in disguise. But they can’t afford to stick around, as they’re still on the run from the most powerful nation on Earth. Desperate for money, McLane decides to go after Maximilian’s gold, as Mullway believes he’s found the location of the third silver watch. The problem is that the location is under 150 feet of water…

XIII is Van Hamme’s grande thriller with Jason Bourne overtones, where a man with no memory discovers more and more twisty turny secrets about himself and his past as the series progresses. And now, with volume 15 we’re on the big finish, the lead-out to the whole 18-volume saga from Van Hamme and artist Vance.

It’s been as twisty and as turny as Van Hamme could possibly make it, packed with identities, mystery, intrigue, and lots of brilliantly executed action. Confusing beyond imagining sometimes, but always thrilling, always a page-turner.

So, 15 volumes in to an 18 volume saga, and I still can’t really see where Van Hamme is planning on taking XIII. Frankly this is one of those volumes where very little happens. Freed from Costa Verda imprisonment, XIII et al are on the run, with US forces closing in, they’re stuck diving for that damn final watch to allow them to go off next volume to find the gold. Or, I could just give you most of the first page summary (and as usual, if the text is too small, click through for the big image)….

Really, at this point we’re all, Van Hamme included, putting block A into slot B plot wise. But just like Van Hamme, if you’re 15 volumes into a 18 volume series, I reckon a moment of pause before the finale is alright.

And yes, little actually happens in the grand scheme of things here, but it happens with typically Van Hamme style. The downside to that is that sometimes typical Van Hamme style includes so much recap it’s damn painful to read. Here, look at this for what I mean…

That’s the downside to being this far into something this complex, having Van Hamme feel he has to remind us halfway through each volume just what exactly is happening. It’s a pain, but it’s excusable, a catching of breath before we plunge into the finale perhaps. And it’s still a great 48-pages of XIII thrills.

Oh, and a mention for Vance. He’s some artist. Occasionally I feel he’s slipped a little in recent volumes, lacking some of the fineness or finesse of earlier volumes perhaps. But not here. Not at all. There’s page after page of gorgeous stuff here. Van Hamme writes to Vance’s strengths I’m sure, but really, the man draws moody scenes in the rain like no-one else can:

XIII has just three volumes to go at this point. There’s no way I’m stopping now. It’s been a thrill ride, it’s been a fantastical thing, and right now I feel like I’m on a huge roller-coaster, just getting to the top of the last rise before the last drop. I’m holding my breath, waiting for that wonderful release. Over to Van Hamme and Vance for that finale.


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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.

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