Yoko Tsuno volume 4: Daughter of the Wind


By Roger Leloup translated by Jerome Saincantin (Cinebook)
ISBN: 978-1-905460-94-6

Yoko Tsuno began first began gracing the pages of Spirou in September 1970 and is still going strong. As detailed by Roger Leloup, the astounding, all-action, uncannily edgy, excessively accessible exploits of the slim, slight Japanese scientific-adventurer are amongst the most intoxicating, absorbing and broad-ranging comics thrillers ever created.

Leloup’s brainchild is an expansively globe-girdling, space-&-time spanning series devised by the monumentally talented Belgian maestro after leaving his job as a studio assistant on Herge’s The Adventures of Tintin to strike out on his own.

Compellingly told, superbly imaginative but always solidly grounded in hyper-realistic settings which boast utterly authentic and unshakably believable technology and scientific principles, these illustrated epics were at the vanguard of a wave of strips featuring competent, clever and brave female protagonists which revolutionised Continental comics from the 1970s onwards.

Happily they are as timelessly engaging and potently empowering now as they ever were.

The very first stories ‘Hold-up en hi-fi’, ‘La belle et la bête’ and ‘Cap 351’ were brief introductory – and possibly beta-testing – vignettes before the superbly capable Miss Tsuno and her always awestruck and overwhelmed male comrades Pol Paris and Vic Van Steen properly hit their stride with premier extended saga Le trio de l’étrange which began in 1971 with the May 13th edition of Spirou

In the original European serialisations, Yoko’s adventures alternated between explosive escapades in exotic corners of the world and sinister deep-space sagas with the secretive and disaster-plagued alien colonists from Vinea, but for these current English translations, the extraterrestrial endeavours have been more often than not sidelined in favour of realistically intriguing Earthly exploits.

There have been 27 European albums to date and this one was first serialised in Spirou #2081-2100 (2nd March to July 13th 1978) before emerging the following year as exotically enthralling album La Fille du vent. A sublimely understated espionage epic with solid hard-science sci fi overtones, it was chronologically the ninth album, yet due the quirks of publishing reached us Brits as Cinebook’s fourth translated tome, offering readers a long-awaited glimpse into the history of the ultra-efficient oriental enigma…

The stupendous saga opens with Yoko calming Vic and Pol as their passenger flight makes its daunting landing at Hong Kong’s Kai-Tak Airport. They have taken a rushed flight because Yoko has received a worrying communiqué about her father, sent by the eminent Chen Wu Cheng

On arrival they are picked-up by a joint team of Chinese and Japanese intelligence operatives sharing a unique problem. Seiki Tsuno is a brilliant scientist; a geophysicist who has been working for decades to find a way to counter the horrific typhoons which regularly devastate coastal regions across the Pacific. He recently succeeded, but only after first discovering exactly how to create the catastrophic whirlwinds…

Now Yoko’s hosts inform her that her father’s financial backer Ito Kazuki has conspired with elements of the Japanese government and greedy business interests to steal the research with the intention of using the typhoon-making process as a weapon to restore Japan to its days of military glory and pre-eminence.

The elder Tsuno and Kazuki are now at war and the storms they make are wrecking the climate of the entire region. In their desperation these national agencies want Yoko to talk to her father and make him stop before it’s too late. Moreover, with all Kazuki’s resources in play, they need her to approach her dad secretly so as not to alert the enemy millionaire to the mission…

Thus this long, circuitous trip from the coast of China to Yoko’s family home, which eventually concludes with her being parachuted in from a high-altitude seaplane at night. Over strident objections from Vic and Pol, the “Daughter of the Wind” has accepted the mission, but it’s not until she’s actually plunging towards the giant statue of the Buddha and temple above her family home that Yoko act on the suspicions she’s been harbouring.

Disabling her electronic tracker, Yoko shifts orientation and lands far from her specified target site. Almost immediately her caution pays dividends as she spots armed masked men waiting around the area where she was supposed to land. Doffing her gear she quietly heads for the temple where a monk helps her avoid the faux ninjas and reach her father’s house.

There she is joyously reunited with aged Aoki: a former Imperial pilot who joined the household as a gardener and practically raised Yoko whilst her parents conducted their own, more important, adult affairs…

He reveals the truth: there is war between Kazuki and her father, but the millionaire plans to trap and use her as a bargaining chip over Seiki and ultimately achieve total control of Japan…

As Yoko radios Pol and Vic the ninjas strike and only familiarity with her father’s inventions allow her and Aoki to escape, aided by the sudden explosive appearance of her European friends. A hectic and explosive seaborne chase ensues but after Kazuki throws one of his typhoons at them Yoko and her friends are caught and taken by submarine to the mad millionaire’s near-sacrilegious undersea base whilst old Aoki is left clinging to a buoy…

Kazuki seems like a reasonable man and offers Yoko a position with his organisation – which she naturally declines – but does concede to run his TV and telecommunications equipment as he moves to his momentous endgame…

Whilst Yoko tells her incarcerated pals of her lonely neglected childhood and the tragic story of failed Kamikaze Aoki and how he came to live with her grandfather, Seiki Tsuno – who has picked up the aging gardener from the buoy – moves towards his final showdown with Kazuki: a very public duel between the madman’s typhoon-maker and his own whirlwind eradication process.

The researcher is confident of his invention’s efficacy but never expected Kazuki to cheat…

Yoko isn’t surprised at her captor’s double-dealing and when the would-be warlord is distracted by his recently created waterspout growing completely beyond his control, leads Pol and Vic in a daring escape back to her dad who has only one appalling solution to the rapidly-expanding super-storm…

Sadly it involves two pilots simultaneously flying into the typhoon with a massive explosive device and has only a remote chance of working…

Building to a thundering climax and truly tragic conclusion, this potent large-scale human drama showed both a softer side and more mature aspect of our star, confirming she was a truly multi-faceted adventurer, at home in all manner of scenarios and easily able to hold her own against the likes of James Bond, Modesty Blaise, Tintin or other genre-busting super-stars: as triumphantly capable facing spies and madmen as alien invaders, weird science or unchecked forces of nature…

As always the most effective asset in these breathtaking tales is the astonishingly authentic and staggeringly detailed draughtsmanship and storytelling, which superbly benefits from Leloup’s diligent research and meticulous attention to detail, honed through years of working on Tintin.

This is a magnificently wide-screen thriller, tense, complex and evocative, which will appeal to any fan of blockbuster action fantasy or devious derring-do.
Original edition © Dupuis, 1979 by Roger Leloup. All rights reserved. English translation 2009 © Cinebook Ltd.