By Achde and Gerra (in the style of Morris)
Ok, 45 volumes in and frankly I’ve reviewed so many of these that these reviews sort of write themselves. The iconic character remains consistent, no matter whether it’s a blade of grass or a fag hanging laconically from his mouth. Lucky Luke is still the cowboy who can shoot faster than his shadow, his adventures inevitably revolve around some nefarious characters that require his unique skillset to round up and get the better of, before he rides out of town once more, just him and loyal equine companion Jolly Jumper, forever wandering, the epitome of the lonesome cowboy riding the range.
That these tales are as enjoyable and familiar as they are is no surprise, the character’s been entertaining generations since the 40s, and whilst original creator Morris has left us, as has his literary collaborator Goscinny, there’s been a healthy succession of writers and artists who step up to keep the stories coming. In fact, with very little to talk about in terms of the character or storyline anymore, the only real approach to take with each review for a while has been an analysis of what each new team brings to the character, how they maintain the legend Morris (and Goscinny) created, and how they differ from the classic tales.
I’ve looked at the work of writer/artist Achde and writer Gerra before with The Man From Washington, and had this to say…
“… but although The Man From Washington doesn’t really do much except copy a classic, it certainly does do it proficiently and with style and good humour. It may not be brilliant, but it’s certainly doing a passable impression of a classic.”
“…. what we have here is a classic Lucky Luke setup; where Luke gets a mission, and along the way we get to meet a cast of character that all exist simply to hang a plot and some gags off.”
Here’s what this one is all about…
Urgent message for the Dalton brothers: the president has approved a special measure to combat overpopulation in the country’s prisons. They’re going to be. hanged! Their last hope lies in a little known law that would see them walk free if they were to marry. A frantic Ma Dalton tries to locate brides for her boys, but their reputation precedes them, and the only candidates she eventually locates could well turn out to be a worse choice than the rope…
Oh dear. This genuinely looks like it may be the end for the Daltons, and even Luke seems slightly perturbed by the finality of it all. Ma Dalton’s certainly off to do all she can to rescue her boys from the noose. Especially as there’s a loophole…. all she has to do is fix them up with four wives, part of the old Settlers Act, a condemned man who can find a wife has his sentence commuted to (married) life.
Except tying that particular knot proves a little more difficult than she initially thought. After all, these are the Daltons we’re talking about.
The only thing she can finally do is head to Indian territory, where she finds four squaws willing to go through with the ceremony. Three of the brothers are going to find married life very tough from here on in, whilst Averell seems to have fallen on his feet. What follows is a series of comedic setpieces following first the Daltons realising that married life may not be all it was meant to be, and then their inevitable return to their old ways.
Yes, it’s funny, it’s well put together and Achde’s art is doing a marvellous impersonation of Morris. This looks, feels, and reads as authentic Luke.
Problems… well, seeing as the gags in here are all essentially nothing more than a derivation of the old “my wife’s so fat and ugly” kind there’s a big issue there. And tie that one in to the stereotype imagery of the Indians…. oh dear. When Morris and Goscinny did it you at least had the benefit of being able to call it a product of older, less enlightened times. Here it just rather smacks of racial stereotyping for comedic effect. Or is that me being too liberal and sensitive about this?
On a lighter note to end… there’s verbal gags and references a plenty here, the appearance of The Bluecoats ‘Chesterblutch’ and Private ‘Field’ is sneaked in, but best of all we have Achde’s homage to Goscinny and Uderzo’s famous French village feast…