The Fortune of the Winczlavs 2: Tom and Lisa, 1910

The Fortune of the Winczlavs 2: Tom and Lisa, 1910
The Fortune of the Winczlavs 2 Tom and Liza review
  • UK publisher / ISBN: Cinebook - 978-1-80044-072-2
  • Volume No.: 2
  • Release date: 2022
  • English language release date: 2023
  • UPC: 9781800440722
  • Contains adult content?: yes
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: yes
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no

It’s a rare author who produces a series so successful that they’re able to spin-off a separate series investigating the back story, but that’s the case for Jean Van Hamme and Largo Winch. Van Hamme bequeathed the primary series to others in favour of laying out exactly how Largo himself came to inherit such a massive fortune.

That began with a Montenegran revolutionary in 1848, and the family ancestry throughout the remainder of the 19th century was covered in Vanko. It also explained how Vanko’s grandchildren Tom and Lisa came to be separated at an early age, growing up on different continents. As events pick up in 1910 they’ve both reached their early twenties and are remarkably different people. In the USA Tom is attached to nothing and no-one, yet slips into money nonetheless, while in France Lisa is passionate and committed as World War I approaches, determined to use her flying skills to repel Germans despite the archaic attitudes of the authorities.

On other projects, Largo Winch included, Van Hamme has been a master storyteller, but for a second volume The Fortune of the Winczlavs fails to see the wood for the trees. Van Hamme wants the story to play out against major events of the times, but the shorthand storytelling isn’t convincing. Some events are shoehorned in and explanations of others are given in large slabs of dialogue that grind the story to a halt. It’s not without thrills and excitement, but the characters are very much slaves to the plot rather than driving things forward.

As before, though, Philippe Berthet’s polished artwork goes a long way to plastering over the disappointment. He lovingly recreates the period detail, supplies spectacular aerial dogfights and gives the cast emotional expressions belying their one-note personalities.

It’s perhaps a small point, but whoever came up with the book design chose a startling image to place over the back cover copy. Unfortunately, it’s from one of the final pages, and although not featuring a major character it’s a spoiler.

As Tom and Lisa ends it’s 1933 and Largo’s father Nerio Winch has just been born. Van Hamme and Berthet pick up with him just over twenty years later in Danitza.