Review by Karl Verhoven
The long-running Spirou and Fantasio franchise was established in the 1940s, and in 2010 it was placed under the care of Fabien Vehlmann and Yoann (Chivard), although it wasn’t their first work on the characters. In 2006 they’d been the creative team that launched a series of one-off albums, allowing noted names to produce a Spirou and Fantasio story without having to commit to a series. They must have enjoyed the experience, and produced five further new adventure stories before taking Spirou off in a radical new direction. Attack of the Zordolts is the first of these, and the first to be translated into English.
It concerns strange goings on in Champignac, home to Spirou and Fantasio’s old friend the Count, who constantly experiments with mushroom based substances. Readers see that presumed-reformed enemy Zorglub is up to no good, and by the time Spirou and Fantasio become involved Champignac has been quarantined.
Yoann takes his artistic cues from Janry’s 1980s version of Spirou, with squared-off hair and the occasional pouting expression, while a balding Fantasio is a natural extension of his always high forehead, but also a bold move. Yoann’s scenes of a town barely visible between giant mushrooms are amazing, and Champignac is now populated by some decidedly weird creatures as well. Fred Blanchard is credited for designs, so perhaps they’re his work.
As to what’s happening, the Count describes it as “an evolutionary hyperactivity phenomenon. Animals and plants breed, die and adapt in mere hours!” That accounts for the strange creatures, who’ve evolved to cope with new evolutionary characteristics of their natural predators, and the mystery Vehlmann keeps simmering almost all the way through concerns just what Zorglub is up to. Considering the interesting environment there is to explore, we don’t actually see much of Zorglub until the end, and Vehlmann fudges Zorglub’s plans as despite “The End” definitively stamped on the final panel, this is the first volume of a two part story.
As a first outing for a new creative team this is visually inventive and fun, but not quite as good as might have been expected from two top of the line creators who’ve read Spirou and Fantasio as youngsters and know what they have to live up to.