Writer Jean Van Hamme and artist Grzegorz Rosinski return to their sword and sorcery adventurer in the tenth Thorgal book to be published in English by Cinebook, The Sun Sword.
Having saved a young girl from a bear, a girl who subsequently ran off, a bearded Thorgal is betrayed to Orgoff, the cruel local lord who keeps his people and slaves in check with a light weapon called the Sun Sword. While enslaved Thorgal is able to turn that power against Orgaff and he escapes to join the local rebels lead by a woman with whom he is already very familiar. To defeat Orgaff and set the locals free of his tyranny, Thorgal must put aside his differences with the rebel leader and help her rebellion.
Thorgal has had an uneven time in the English language. There were 3 books translated and published by Ink Publishing in America in the late 1980s and early 1990s while the album Au-Delà Des Ombres was translated by Diana Barton and published as Beyond The Shadows over six issues of Marvel UK's bi-weekly Strip comic in the summer of 1990, eighteen years before Cinebook published their version of it. However Cinebook have had the dedication to start his adventures and, having published his out-of-sequence origin story, they have kept them going in their original French publication order.
Jean Van Hamme as writer on any of Cinebook's titles is normally a sign of top quality but I personally prefer his contemporaneous series like XIII, Largo Winch and Lady S rather than his more historical series such as Thorgal or his version of Blake And Mortimer. I don't have a thorough grounding in Thorgal's previous adventures and this book, using as it does characters and technology introduced in much earlier stories, comes across as one for the fans because of that. Without that background the book can still be read and understood, but I suspect that it would have been better if I had known already known those characters that Van Hamme reintroduces here.
The story is basically a Conan-style tale with a science-fiction twist, the Sun Sword of the title, as Thorgal is enslaved by a tyrant, escapes, is captured by rebels, conveniently knows their leader and then helps to lead the revolt against the self same tyrant. There is a nice B-story of a peasant boy befriending the girl of noble birth that Thorgal saves at the beginning and how the unlikely pair interact on the sidelines with the other characters in the tale including Thorgal. It would have been interesting to see the entire story written from their perspective rather than have them dip in and out of the action but this is Thorgal's book and not theirs.
Rosinski's artwork remains as pleasant as ever to look at. I have said in a previous Thorgal review that his style reminds me of John Ridgway's coloured art and this book only serves to emphasise the thought, especially having seen John's coloured art for Strip Magazine's similarly themed tale The Age of Heroes written by James Hudnall.
While Thorgal - The Sun Sword may not be the best Thorgal for a new reader to start with, I suspect that it will be something of a treat for those readers who have stuck with the series so far.
• There are more details of the English language Thorgal books at the Cinebook website.
• There are more details of the French language Thorgal albums at the official Thorgal website (in French).
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