Review by Ian Keogh
The new creative team of Yves Sente and Iouri Jigounov hit the ground running on XIII, the events detailed in The Day of the Mayflower ensuring that Jason McClane has once again been framed as a wanted man. Fortunately, despite the weight of circumstantial evidence against him, Jason has friends he can trust and who believe in his innocence. We know the reasons behind his predicament, but he doesn’t, and key to everything is somehow figuring out a connection between his missing memories and the Mayflower, the ship on which North America’s first sustained British colonists landed in what’s now the USA.
Sente springs a great surprise in the opening pages of The Bait. An innocent victim in the previous story was the brother of a feared gangster, and he’s now on Jason’s trail as well. Beyond leaving a phone message, long term supporting character Colonel Jones was absent last time, but the cover and title pretty well sum up her fate here. As Jason continues to draw a blank dredging up further memories of his youth, those behind his predicament are twisting the screw.
The high artistic standards of the series are upheld by Jigounov, who produces some stunning pages, such as the beautifully composed helicopter action scene providing the sample art. There are plenty more equally as good. The strength of XIII as a series, however, is how an artist handles the essential scenes of conversation as we look in on the plotters and on those attempting to work things out. Because these scenes aren’t as visually dominant Jigounov’s superb work on them isn’t perhaps as obvious, but an indication of how good he really is, is that they never look dull.
It’s a sordid and depressing world Jason occupies. Almost anyone in any position of authority is either corrupt, fatally compromised or incompetent, none of which serves Jason very well, except as a constant reminder of the few people he can trust. Sente uses this to set a constant tension by endangering people. It’s narrative manipulation, but carried out to the highest standards, as while Jason has to remain among the living to further the continuing plot, that doesn’t necessarily apply to all his friends however resourceful they may be. The Bait thrills from start to finish, and that’s all you really need to know. Return to Green Falls is next.