Review by Megan Sinclair
The fourth volume of this 17th century adventure series opens dramatically with Trebaldi violently ordering a prostitute to be taken from the streets and strangling her to death as he is thrown into a fit of rage by her familiarity to a figure from the past. In the blink of a one panel flashback the woman in question is shockingly revealed. Within the image she tenderly refers to Trebaldi, proving there may be a deeper connection between him and the Scorpion, and that the murdered ex-Pope may or may not be the true parent of the protagonist. The development of Rochnan’s character similarly continues as Mejai reveals her past relationship with him, and the reason why he is always masked becomes clearer. In the final pages we finally see him unmasked and unrobed, and witness the reasons for his mask. Amidst his quest for the cross and capture of the old Templar Gottfried, Rochnan delivers his own brand of justice on those who previously wronged him.
Whilst Scorpion’s relationship with women, in particular Mejai, remains fragile, his right hand man Hussan becomes close with Fenice, introduced alongside her brother in the last volume, who were originally employed by Rochnan to source the location of the heroes. The hunt for the cross grows more intense as its location becomes known but the impact of events of The Holy Valley raise new challenges that the Scorpion must deal with alongside finding the cross before Trebaldi’s men. Mejai, who has largely looked out for herself, now must pick a side. New bonds are made and others broken as the mission ends. The Scorpion and Rochnan eventually clash in an epic duel, with the unmasked villain revealing an ominous clue as to why Trebaldi is so fixated on Armando. Rochnan’s announcement sets the precedence for the following story arc, prompting Armando to seek answers and embark on a new venture with In the Name of the Father.
As the quest for the cross comes to an end and the narrative heats up, Enrico Marini’s artwork matches the pace of Stephen Desberg’s writing with a noticeably more action-packed range of images from horse chases, to shoot outs, to sword fights. Characters old and new resurface and the locations flit between Rome and the Holy Lands, and the past and present. Trebaldi’s power grows stronger, and although one adventure has come to an end, it seems certain that the paths between the Scorpion and his mortal enemy are far from over.