God bless the people over at Cinebooks. This is a British company striving to make sure us ignorant English speakers, get introduced to some of Europe’s best comics. They’ve brought us, Yoko Tsuno, Valerian and of course, Blake and Mortimer.
For those who didn’t read the last Blake and Mortimer review, the book has some Tintin links that shouldn’t be ignored. However, when one reads Atlantis Mystery, you can’t help notice that Edgar P Jacobs and Hergé took separate routes, on the route to becoming masters of the medium.
While Hergé, focused a lot on the craft of telling stories, his plot’s allowing the reader to almost ride along with Tintin, Jacobs became the other side of the spectrum, a true master of the ‘clean line style’. While it is debatable whether Hergé obtained a ludicrously high standard of artwork in Tintin, Jacobs, in equal or greater to Hergé in this respect.
The panel work truly is art. Each well place and considered line, each crease and crack created from them, give a level of realism to our adventurers to a ludicrous degree. But it is the under the earth city of Atlantis, that turely open’s up the comic’s beauty.
The story is very straightforward, Blake and Mortimer, while trying to recoverer a new material that Mortimer believes to be Orichalcum, the specious material Plato referred to as ‘like gold’. Of course, things don’t end there. After failing to swim against the tide, out heroes are attacked, but saved and taken to Atlantis. While there, Blake and Mortimer realize things aren’t as they seem. Soon, they are in the midst of a would be rebellion, fighting a war for the crown of Atlantis.
While the story itself isn’t bad, and the settings introduced through the story make the artwork as compelling as it is, the sheer amount of text in some panels, can make the book feel laborious in parts. Even the action is slowed down considerably, when the reader is not allowed to experience the moment fully, without having to read a caption detailing it’s contents.
But it is certainly Jacob’s artwork that keeps you reading. Be it the caves in which the journey to Atlantis starts, the 1950’s-esq ‘futureopolis’ that is Atlantis, or the dangerous living forests Blake and Prince Icarus cross through, each panel is vibrant and would be made so much more compelling with less text.
While this reviewer cannot say where this exactly ranks on the list of Blake and Mortimer adventures, reading this book can feels more of a Mission than a Mystery. Atlantis Mystery, while certainly a beautiful and vivid example of a master of comic book art, it is not the strongest story of the series, despite brilliance of Jacob’s imagination, that constantly bubbles under the surface.
However if you’re interested in comics as a craft, a leaf through these pages cannot hurt. For everything this book does wrong, it makes up for in spades with it’s paneling, and serves as a reminder of how sometimes even the best writing, can slow down a beautiful book.