By Jean Van Hamme and William Vance
XIII and his friends, still in hiding from the NSA, now have the riddle from all three silver watches… and Maximilian’s gold is within their reach. But the treasure is well hidden. Not to mention that $15 million is enough to attract a lot of unwanted attention. Meanwhile, in Washington, an increasingly desperate Frank Giordino can feel the noose tightening around his neck—and men are at their most dangerous when desperate. All he needs is someone to bring him the right information…
Well. Here we are. Sort of the penultimate volume. Yes, I know there are two left, but the next one has the smack of an exercise in filling in the blanks; a journey into the past with Moebius on art duties as Van Hamme looks into the Irish connection, the dangling thread of XIII’s past. For some strange reason, this late in the game, the art for that volume is by the late Moebius. It seems an unlikely fit at first, but one has to remember this is the Moebius who delivered epic western adventures with Lt. Blueberry.
Anyway, back to the volume in hand, and the very helpful at this point summary intro page…..
Yes, those treasured pesos were always going to make a repeat appearance. Too big a dangling plot thread for Van Hamme to leave alone. But to be honest, perhaps he should have. Because this simply smacks of tying up all the loose ends, rather than delivering a satisfying storyline. Sure, what is inside this volume’s story is delivered well, drawn beautifully – as you’ld expect from Van Hamme and Vance at this late stage – but the sense of treading water is palpable.
This is the big pause before the end, the time for everyone to get together, take a moment, find themselves involved in some bizarre treasure hunt even though they know the huge might of the US NSA and a very desperate Frank Giordino is on their case…. like Jones says…. it’s too comfortable….
Later on there’s a little action as the gang go after the money, but it’s a half-hearted sort of action sequence, as if everyone, Van Hamme included, are simply waiting for this one to finish so they can get on.
But the strange thing about XIII that I realised a while ago is that a poor episode like this still feels like a poor episode of the best TV thriller you’ve ever read. The episode may be a bit of a let-down, but the feel of the series remains excellent.
And frankly, now we’re all at Volume 16 of 18, there’s surely no way you’re going to give up on it now? I’m certainly not. Van Hamme and Vance have consistently delivered excellence in their thriller. The odd mildly dull and inconsequential episode, such as this one, doesn’t really detract from that magnificent cumulative effect.