Review by Frank Plowright
This is Achdé’s third Lucky Luke album, and the second in collaboration with his most frequent writer to date, Laurent Gerra. The knot of the title has a double meaning. It refers to both the hangman’s noose as so prominently illustrated on the cover, and that this the book in which Daltons are married.
As events begin the Daltons have reached the end of their rope, so to speak. A presidential decree has converted their 387 year prison sentence to execution in order to solve the problem of prison overcrowding. This rather sets alarm bells ringing. However much elements in the classic Lucky Luke stories may have been exaggerated for comic effect, they were founded on sound historical reference, and knowledge of procedure. Overlook that mis-step, though, and Gerra’s plot is very good.
He drops in on assorted women from previous Lucky Luke books, delivers a nice Asterix homage, and provides a convincing reason why there are four women who’d want to marry the Daltons. In between all that there’s plenty of comedy as the Daltons realise they may have traded fates for something worse than a jail cell, and begin bickering among themselves as the dimmest, Averell, comes up smelling of roses.
Achdé’s cartooning is excellent. Vastly influenced by Luke’s creator Morris, it wasn’t a great stylistic jump to mimic Morris’ style, and when you see a classic Daltons procession, their heads at the same height as they descend some steps, you know the franchise is in safe hands artistically.
It wouldn’t be worth having the Daltons if they didn’t soon return to their habitual criminal activities, and sure enough, after a good sequence where they attempt to pass on their expertise, the banks are once again at risk.
If there is a quibble about this book it’s that Luke barely features as anything but an observer in the opening pages, is absent for most of the mid-section, and only comes into his own in the final quarter. If habitual it’ll be a problem. This is otherwise a very funny album continuing a fine tradition.