By Jean Van Hamme and William Vance
“XIII has freed a country, exposed a traitor, reunited with his wife… and found his father. As he deals—somewhat against his will—with the aftermath of the revolution in Costa Verde, Sean Mullway recounts for him his family’s history: Irish immigrants, remorseless Mafiosi, Mexican gold, and three silver watches. New answers will also bring new questions and a whole new set of potential enemies just as old ones come back to the fore.”
Eleven volumes in and I’m beginning to run out of ways to tell you how great the XIII experience is.
Each episode gives us a little more of the story of Van Hamme and Vance’s mysterious amnesiac with more identities in his troubled past than you can easily keep count of. And every episode also throws up new mysteries, one step forwards, a couple back, a few to the side. This is no straightforward tale, it’s more a case of Jean Van Hamme dancing with his plotlines till the end. And eleven volumes down, eight to go, those of us who love the series are with it to the end, whilst those of you who’ve yet to delve into the world of XIII have our envy.
This time we’re looking back on XIII’s earlier life, following the revelations of his visit to Costa Verde in For Maria and El Cascador.
The whole volume is a self contained thing, dealing equally with XIII’s past and his present; mopping up the problems of Costa Verde, with XIII being El Cascador one last time, in a suitably action packed mission to blow up a bridge.
It’s a mix of exposition and action that Van Hamme excels at, and here we finally, 11 volumes into the tale, learn what I really believe is the true identity of XIII, the tragic tale of his birth, his mother’s death, and unusual upbringing.
But even here, Van Hamme is setting up for the future, establishing new enemies, familiar faces from his espionage past cropping up unexpectedly, new vendettas to pursue, all designed to draw him back into the murky, dangerous politics of the USA. There’s a long way still to go after all….
This volume does everything I wanted it to, Van Hamme’s saga hadn’t exactly become flabby, but there was a pattern developing, that the continual red herrings of XIII’s identities were becoming perhaps a little too predicatable. Here, having finally (I think) revealed the mystery off who XIII truly is, we’ve new momentum to the series, a momentum that should see us through, excited, full of anticipation, for the climax.
And as usual, Vance brings his best game to XIII, excelling at pretty much everything, whether it’s the scene setting talking heads sequences of XIII’s unfolding ancestory or the action scenes, it’s all good. How good… oh, how about this good?