By Xavier Dorison and Fabien Nury, art by Christian Rossi
“1895. Members of the East Coast elite have died under mysterious circumstances. To investigate this delicate problem, Richard Clayton—against the wishes of the President—calls upon a man named Morton Chapel for his unorthodox methods and peculiar associates. As they begin to uncover strange, vanishing marks on people’s bodies, unexplained changes in behaviour and hints of widespread corruption, the team reforms around the name Ulysses S. Grant himself gave it years earlier: his SPecialists in the Odd and the OCcult—his SPOOKS.”
I was expecting rather great things from SPOOKS, or WEST, as it was originally titled, written as it is by Xavier Dorison, whose Long John Silver is a near perfect book whose next volume I eagerly await.
But sadly SPOOKS didn’t quite manage the brilliance of LJS, perhaps due to it being published in France 4 years prior to LJS, and there are moments where Dorison’s ideas and pacing fail here where they were confident, assured, and flawless in LJS.
But there’s still more than enough here to make it something worth reading, something worth enjoying for all the silliness and excitement that a genre mashup of Cowboys and Paranormal Investigations promises.
Come on, this is the Magnificent Seven meets the X-Files. Doesn’t that put a smile on your face?
The Cinebook summary blurb gives you pretty much everything you need to decipher the plot here… that sequence above features cigar chomping SPOOKS sponsor Richard Clayton getting his marching orders from the US Government and beginning the process of assembling his SPOOKS team, starting with the Englishman Morton Chapel.
The final panel with Chapel under threat is just a classic example of the over the top stuff Dorison is going for – the cut to a different panel, the cliché of the Russian roulette moment, it wont be the first familiar comic/film stereotype you see here. And you know something – it didn’t bother in the slightest. In fact, it’s all part of the fun.
So you’ll get a riotous beginning, introducing the supernatural stuff, where all those very important people start dying, all with that occult symbol that goes as soon as they do, all culminating in the chaos you see above. Again, the whole train crash out of the station isn’t new wither. And again, it matters not one whit. This is something that rather wonderfully wears all it’s influences proudly.
And after this we have the classically structured team book – the heroes assembled in response to a threat, again wonderfully familiar, this time with the Magnificent Seven firmly in my mind.
There’s so much to enjoy here, as long as you want to, as long as you don’t go looking for too much. This is an unashamed genre mashing romp, harking back to so much that has gone before, Dorison and Nury tripping over themselves to shoehorn as many different western/paranormal moments into the plot.
It promised a lot more than it delivered to be honest, much of that possibly down to Dorison’s development as a writer since, but some of it simply down to them trying too damn hard to get so much in.
But nevertheless, if you’re looking for something interesting, light, fast, and fun…. SPOOKS may well fit the bill.