Written by Jean Van Hamme
Illustrated by Vance
Coloured by Petra
A man washes ashore near an old couple’s house, barely alive. When he comes to, he has forgotten everything, including his name. The only clues to his identity: a key sewn into his clothes, a bullet wound to the head… and the number XIII tattooed on his shoulder. A meagre start to reconstruct one’s self.
I love this issue and how it starts us off on the adventure of the man known as XIII, thirteen. I think that we open this story where we do, is pretty genius and it is all about finding out his backstory and trying to regain his memory while being hunted. It has to be extremely frustrating to not know who you are while you keep encountering folks who don’t believe and just want to see you dead. That idea is something that isn't really seen all that often and when this was first published in Europe it was the early 80’s so it was pretty original then. Also for something written that long ago this holds up magnificently well in today’s world. That makes this a timeless story that could be set in any era which I have to doth my cap to these creators for managing to create an epic masterpiece.
The way that this is being told is bloody brilliant. The story & plot development that we see through how the sequence of events unfold as well as how the reader learns information is extremely well presented. The way that we see events utilised to propel the characters forward to the next stage in the story is pretty masterfully done. The character development is phenomenal to see play out in these pages. That we see glimpses into who they are through their actions and how they act and react to the situations that they encounter is marvellous to see. The pacing is superb and as it takes us through the pages revealing the story and Thirteen’s life we see how well everything here works together to create the story’s ebb & flow.
Now the way that this is structured and how we see the layers within the story is beautifully rendered. I am so impressed with the way that this book flows and how we become invested and engaged in what we see here. It takes a special kind of talent to be able to weave this into something so much more than we could have anticipated.
Good grief these interiors are mindbogglingly magnificent. The linework we see is exquisite and how the varying weights and techniques are utilised to showcase the detail work that we see is utterly phenomenal. For me they didn’t try to go ultra realism or keep too comic style instead this ends up in the middle and it really is those details that make it what it is. The backgrounds that we see and how they enhance the moments and how they are able to bring us depth perception, a sense of scale and that overall sense of size and scope to the book is beyond my expectations. The utilisation of the page layouts and how we see the angles and perspective in the panels show a masters eye for storytelling. I mean the XIII tattoo and how it looks on the skin is among the reasons I am so high on these interiors. Then there’s the colour work that we see and it is divine. That rose couch for instance while suits those who own it is a masterpiece of colour work unto itself. The way we see the various hues and tones within the colours being utilised to create the shading, highlights and shadow work shows us one of the most spectacular eyes for how colour works.
There is no surprise to me that there are films and television shows based upon this character and in all honesty they pale in comparison to what I am seeing here. This really is among the absolute best story I have ever seen in my life and if that doesn’t say something about this then nothing will.