Review by Frank Plowright
When we first met the Killer he was a model of efficiency by his own standards, cool, calculated and unattached except for the manager who arranged his hits and payment. Now he has a girlfriend and son, and has compromised his own principles by working directly for a crime family, and for what looks to be someone representing the political interests of the US government. The result has been the Killer embroiled in a political mess, attempts on his own life, and having to make new allies.
Having gone deeply into the less publicised global injustices in Modus Vivendi, Matz opens Unfair Competition with a dissection of the drug trade and the money laundering that accompanies it. However, with the bolstering for the back story dealt with, Matz moves into more comfortable territory for the killer as he explains his own remorselessly logical but callously inhumane views of life. They’re convincingly cynical, and one hopes it’s just personality creation, not the writer via avatar. All that, however is a prelude to the real business, which is business, and takes the Killer and The Killer into new territory.
That makes little difference to Luc Jacamon, who delivers his by now usual stunning job. After four volumes perhaps we’ve become a little complacent about just how good he is. There’s portrait after portrait of the Killer himself behind his distinctive shades, Havana looking like the place you next want to visit, and the action delivered with a cinematic clarity.
Matz has really pulled something off here. It may seem a little too rapid to talk about a massive swerve of direction after three previous books, but those collected seven French albums in translation. Unfair Competition is like the uncompromising Pere Ubu suddenly turning in an album packed with classic pop songs in Cloudland, or Arsenal’s success not coming from an absolute priority of defence, but flourishing under Arsene Wenger’s beautiful football. The Killer as business executive and his mate Mariano as potential political saviour is a transition that’s been foreshadowed, and explored with class, exciting, but without moving the series into the high action business realms of Largo Winch. Along the way the injustice of the USA’s attitude to Cuba based on dogma and sour grapes is thoroughly aired.
Just how the change of direction works out isn’t revealed here, but continued in Fight or Flight. Alternatively, this is combined with the previous volume as The Killer Omnibus Volume Two, or all the Killer’s exploits are gathered as The Complete The Killer.