Review by Frank Plowright
It might have been thought that Jean Van Hamme and Philippe Francq had the market sown up when it came to stories about extremely capable, handsome and well travelled sons inheriting a vast financial empire. Going by this introductory volume, though, Largo Winch has some competition in Milan K.
As with other recent Humanoids product, this is a handsomely produced hardback complete with bookmark, this time combining what was originally published as three French albums.
The book opens with a Russian billionaire set-up for a fall. When he refuses to confess to selling crude-oil on the black market to avoid taxes Khodorov is arrested. He’s a resourceful man, though, and has numerous plans in place in the eventuality of such an occurrence. At the primary level this is arranging the means for his teenage son Milan to escape, providing both a new identity and a protector. The scenario brings to mind children’s novel I am Number Four (although preceded it), and Milan, now in the USA with a bodyguard, gradually discovers further clues as to his father’s preparations.
Writer Sam Timel pulls a lot of his story from real-world events. Calling the Russian president Palin is barely concealment, although this president has hair. Khodorov’s fate is similar to that of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, while the third chapter opens with illustrations copied from photographs circulated by dying dissident spy Alexander Litvinenko on his hospital death bed. It all adds an air of near reality. Timel’s plot is well stitched together and maintains the tension, if only occasionally veering into unpredictable territory. He keeps the action brewing and Milan is resourceful and likeable, if sometimes finding the help or companionship he requires a little too easily.
Artist Corentin is extremely accomplished, but then he’s the son of renowned French comic creator Michel Rouge, and named after a long-running strip about a global adventurer. His storytelling is excellent, and he has a good handle on emotional characterisation. He does have a problem with hands, though, which all too frequently look wrong.
There is a conclusion over these three books, but enough is left dangling to warrant a “to be continued” box at the end. Not least the identity of the mystery man who’s been aiding Milan.