Who is XIII? Presidential assassin? Special forces soldier? Husband? The questions continue in the second part of the XIII saga Where The Indian Walks written by Jean Van Hamme and illustrated by William Vance.
Amidst the chaos and unanswered questions of the first book, XIII had discovered a photograph of himself standing beside a pretty blonde called Kim Rowland, the widow of Captain Steve Rowland, who is waiting for him "where the Indian walks". Trying to find out more about Kim at the army base Rowland had been posted at, XIII is taken into military custody and interviewed by General Ben Carrington who knew Rowland when he was in a specials forces outfit called SPADS. The General tells him that he, XIII, is Rowland and therefore he is actually looking for his own wife. Since XIII does not really believe this, the General arranges for him to go to Rowland's family home where everyone recognises him and he gets caught up in their various attempts at securing the family inheritance whilst continuing to track down Kim.
This second book in the story of XIII dates from 1985 and while Vance's artwork reflects the clothing styles of the period, it remains detailed and dynamic with much the military hardware in the book still in use today. What does date it is the use of a school databank via a home computer terminal - it may raise a smile today but it was the height of internet technology at the time and full marks to Van Hamme for using it a quarter of a century ago. While Van Hamme tells two different stories in parallel, about the soldier's wife as well as about the inheritance, one inevitably proves more interesting that the other. For me the Kim Rowland story is more intriguing and does lead the storyline on into the third book but I do wonder if the ongoing plot will return to the family in the future.
Is XIII really Steve Rowland? Everyone else in Where The Indian Walks seems to think so but XIII remains unconvinced and as a reader you are drawn to XIII's view of things which then leaves an incredible question mark over every other character. It is the strength of Van Hamme's writing that instead of ending up frustrated at this, you are left wanting more.
There are more details of the English language XIII books on the Cinebook website.
There are more details of the original French XIII albums on the Dargaud website.
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