XIII Volume 12 – The Trial
By Jean Van Hamme and William Vance
Called back to the USA by the frantic government, McLane and Jones discover that General Carrington has kidnapped Wally Sheridan, President of the United States! Holed up in a secret base he’s turned into a fortress, Carrington intends to put Sheridan on trial on live TV and expose him as the Number I of the conspiracy. To do that, he’s going to need XIII’s help in bringing in his main witness: the Mongoose!
Chapter 12 of 19. There’s about as much point me reviewing this now as there is you picking it up and expecting to get the full effect of the XIII series thus far. You wouldn’t wander into a film halfway through, wouldn’t pick up a book and flick to the middle part, so why on earth are you expecting me to encourage you to start XIII with Volume 12?
Alright, fair enough, there is something to be said for picking this up instead of previous volumes, as the whole trial nature leads to a neat summary of some of what has gone before, and in conjunction with Volume 13 “The Investigation” which will fill you in on the other side of the XIII storyline, it could do a good job of giving you a story so far before we plunge into the final third. But then again I could go on the first week of your holiday for you and send you a dvd – just the same, all the facts, none of the experience.
What I will say is that this is the series that simply keeps on going. The situations may change, but the characters, the motivations, the basic DNA of the series – all pretty much the same now as it was back in Volume 1. And oh boy, I loved Volume 1.
We may know (or at least Van Hamme assures us we may know) the identity of XIII by now, but that doesn’t necessarily stop him throwing another adventure our way, alternating as always between tight plotting, full of dialogue and exposition, and the over the top and explosive action scenes.
This is, as you’ll no doubt be aware, like reading Bond on the comic page. In fact it’s Bond, it’s Bourne, it’s Mission Impossible, and every other big budget franchise. Except Van Hamme writes so well, and Vance draws so well, that this is the very best of all of those franchises, especially Bond; all the glorious sense of smart fun, all the action, all the locations, all the tech, all about getting the perfect mix of story, plot, character, action, and thrills.
Sure, there are moments where you may find yourself pondering how he can twist it and turn it all over again, moments even where the incredulity gets a little too much, but overall it just wins you over. It does me anyway. And to be quite honest I imagine it will keep winning me over, no matter what small doubts I have, right up until that final page of Volume 19.