Yoko Tsuno volume 13: The Light of Ixo


By Roger Leloup, coloured by Beatrice/Studio Leonardo, translated by Jerome Saincantin (Cinebook)
ISBN: 978-1-84918-392-5 (Album PB)

Indomitable intellectual adventurer Yoko Tsuno began her career in Le Journal de Spirou in 1970 and is still delighting regular readers and making new fans to this day. Her astounding, all-action, excessively accessible adventures are amongst the most intoxicating, absorbing and broad-ranging comics thrillers ever created.

The globe-girdling, space-&-time-spanning episodic epics starring the Japanese technologist-investigator were devised by monumentally multi-talented Belgian maestro Roger Leloup, who began his own solo career after working as a studio assistant on Herge’s Adventures of Tintin.

Compellingly told, superbly imaginative and – no matter how implausible the premise of any individual yarn may appear – always firmly grounded in hyper-realistic settings underpinned by authentic, unshakably believable technology and scientific principles, Leloup’s illustrated escapades were at the vanguard of a wave of strips revolutionising European comics in the mid-1970s.

That long-overdue sea-change heralded the rise of competent, clever and brave female protagonists taking their rightful places as heroic ideals; elevating Continental comics in the process. Happily, most of their endeavours are as timelessly engaging and empowering now as they ever were, and none more so than the trials and tribulations of Miss Tsuno.

Her very first outings (the still unavailable Hold-up en hi-fi, La belle et la bête and Cap 351) were simple introductory vignettes before the superbly capable electrical engineer and her valiant if less able male comrades Pol Paris and Vic Van Steen properly hit their stride with premier full-length saga Le trio de l’étrange in 1971 with Spirou’s May 13th issue…

Yoko’s exploits include explosive exploits in exotic corners of our world, time-travelling jaunts and sinister deep-space sagas – such as this one – with our human troubleshooters working beside the disaster-prone alien colonists of planet Vinea beside devoted best friend Khany: a competent, commanding single mother who combines parenting her toddler Poky with saving worlds, leading her people and chasing cosmic adventure…

There have been 30 European albums to date and today’s tale originally debuted in 1980 as La Lumière d’Ixo, technically the 10th Yoko Tsuno exploit and the fifth to feature the extraterrestrial Vineans. It appears here via UK translation powerhouse Cinebook, offering an interstellar mystery of beguiling power and confirming the dreadful menace of faith in the hands of ruthless manipulators…

In their first outing together, Yoko, Vic and frivolous Pol discovered a pocket of dormant extraterrestrials hibernating for eons in the depths of the Earth. After freeing them from robotic tyranny, the valiant humans occasionally helped the alien refugees (who had fled their own planet two million years previously) rebuild their lost sciences, before ultimately accompanying them on their return to their own star system and presumed-dead homeworld. As the Vineans rebuilt their civilisation and culture, the humans became regular guests…

On this excursion, the trio join an exploratory mission to distant moon Ixo. In ages past, it was a dumping ground for lethal toxic wastes, uncontrollable superweapons and other deadly discoveries, but since reclaiming their homeworld, the Vinean refugee/re-colonisers have observed periodic flashes of luminescence from what should be nothing but a dead ball of ice and rock. Now, the humans, Khany and her ever-present Poky join a science team seeking answers…

As the expedition travels across the eerily beautiful frozen vacuum of the moon, they discover a hidden sub-surface enclave of enigmatic survivors dedicated to a staggering goal. In the millions of years the Vineans slept in the depths of Earth, their primary civilisation collapsed. One of the greatest casualties was a neighbour planet used to house rebels and exiles, which at some distant time was reduced to a field of space debris.

For eons now, the banished dwellers of surviving self-contained orbital city Shyra have been harvesting energy on Ixo and transmitting it at the rubble, where it has been utilized to slowly reconstruct the broken world.

Tragically, the vast generational task has devolved into a holy crusade, governed by dogma and superstition. As an age-old power struggle between engineers and priests reaches boiling point, Khany and her human companions are captured and impressed into service. Plunged right into the heart of the clash, with hostile forces all around, the deeply empathic Yoko overcomes all odds and opposition: dethroning two minor dictators while perfecting the colossal concave ice mirror used to beam power across space to the shattered world, and even brokers a tenuous peace between Vinea and the Shyrans who have for millions of years considered their sister world a demonic, implacable enemy…

Gripping and visually spectacular, The Light of Ixo combines hard science with tense drama and a soupcon of social criticism: delivering another terse, action-packed, “Big Sky” sci fi thriller, once again magnified into magnificence by the astonishingly compelling and staggeringly detailed draughtsmanship and storytelling of Leloup.
Original edition © Dupuis, 1980 by Roger Leloup. All rights reserved. English translation 2018 © Cinebook Ltd.

Yoko Tsuno volume 10: Message for Eternity


By Roger Leloup translated by Jerome Saincantin (Cinebook)
ISBN: 978-1-84918-251-5 (Album PB)

The uncannily edgy yet excessively accessible exploits of Japanese scientific adventurer Yoko Tsuno first graced the pages of Le Journal de Spirou in September 1970 and are still going strong, with 29th album Anges et Faucons (Angels and Falcons) released in 2019.

The eye-popping, expansively globe-girdling multi-award-winning series is the brainchild of Roger Leloup, another hugely talented Belgian who worked as a studio assistant on Herge’s Adventures of Tintin before striking out on his own. Compellingly told, astoundingly imaginative yet always grounded in hyper-realistic settings whilst sporting utterly authentic and unshakably believable technology, these illustrated epics were at the vanguard of a wave of comics featuring competent, clever and brave female protagonists that revolutionised Continental comics from the last third of the 20th century onwards and are as potently empowering now as they ever were.

The initial Spirou stories ‘Hold-up en hi-fi’, ‘La belle et la bête’ and ‘Cap 351’ were short introductory vignettes prior to the superbly capable Miss Tsuno and her always awestruck and overwhelmed male comrades Pol and Vic truly hitting their stride with premier extended saga Le trio de l’étrange (which began serialisation with the May 13th 1971 issue).

That epic of extraterrestrial intrigue was the first of many European albums, with the one here first serialised in LJdS #1882-1905 (from 9th May-17 October 17th 1974) and released a year later as Message pour l’éternité. A skilfully crafted suspenseful mystery thriller, the chronologically fifth album over there reaches us as Cinebook’s 10th translated chronicle.

It all begins as Yoko perfects her skills in a new hobby. Gliding high above Brittany. she fortuitously sets down in a field near a vast telecommunications complex. Offered a tour of the space-probing facility, she learns from one of the scientists of a fantastic “ghost message” recently picked up by their satellites: a Morse code signal from a British plane lost in 1933. Moreover, the signal is still being regularly broadcast…

As Yoko tries to arrange for her glider to be collected, a mysterious Englishman offers her a lift in his private helicopter but he has an ulterior motive. He works for the company which insured the lost flight and is looking for someone with certain exacting qualifications to trace the downed flight and recover a fortune in jewels from it. Her fee will be £20,000…

His firm has known where the plane went down for quite some time, but geographical and logistical difficulties have prevented them from undertaking a recovery mission until now. Moreover, although they have now started the process, the petite engineer is physically superior to the candidates the company are currently working with…

Cautiously accepting the commission, Yoko starts planning but even before Pol and Vic can join her the following day, strange accidents and incidents impact and imperil her life…

The boys are understandably reluctant but that attitude turns to sheer frustration and terror after someone tries to shoot Yoko down as she practises in her glider. This only makes her more determined to complete the job at all costs…

Two weeks later the trio are heading to the daunting Swiss fortress the company uses as a base, when another spectacular murder attempt almost ends their lives. Yoko remains undaunted but not so Vic and Pol, especially after overhearing that two of her fellow trainees recently died in similar “accidents” in the mountains…

Carrying on regardless, she assesses the technologically sophisticated glider-&-launch system which will take her to the previously unattainable crash site and perfects her landing technique in a fantastic training simulator. Eventually more details are provided and the real story unfolds.

In November 1933, the Handley-Page transport they are hunting was conveying diplomatic mail from Karachi to London before vanishing in a storm over Afghanistan. Decades later, a satellite somehow picked up a broken radio message stating it had landed…

Somewhere…

The businessman the trio call “Milord” identifies himself as Major Dundee – a spymaster from Britain’s Ministry of Defence – who explains how a shady American former U2 pilot approached the British government, claiming to have spotted the downed ship during a clandestine overflight of Soviet territories.

He provided purloined photos showing the plane in the centre of a vast circular crater on the Russo-Chinese border, but subsequent reconnaissance flights revealed nothing in the hole so the decision was taken to make a physical assessment, even though the already inaccessible site was deep in hostile enemy territory. Since then, it has become clear that some unidentified agent or group is acting against the recovery project, presumably intent on retrieving the ship’s mysterious but valuable cargo for a foreign power.

Events spiral out of control when a traitor in the training team attempts to kill Yoko and “Operation Albatross” is rushed to commencement before the unknown enemy can try again…

Within a day she is transported in a speedy manner around the world before her space-age glider prototype is secretly deployed over the enigmatic crater…

Narrowly avoiding patrolling Soviet jets, Yoko deftly manoeuvres into the mist-covered chasm and plunges into one of the most uncanny experiences of her life.

The old plane is certainly gone. The floor of the crater is strangely  cracked and at the centre stands a burned and blackened monolith; there are uncharacteristic animal bones everywhere and at one end of the vast cavity is a primitive but large graveyard…

When the astounded girl goes exploring, she is ambushed by her treacherous fellow trainee who has raced after her by conventional means before parachuting into the bizarre basin. However, his original plans have changed drastically since arrival, and despite the machine gun he wields, he needs Yoko’s help. He’s already located the Handley-Page – somehow manually dragged under an unsuspected overhang in the crater – but is mortally afraid of what he describes as the “tiny people” infesting the terrifying impact bowl…

As the unlikely allies head towards the eerily preserved plane, the truth about the terrifying homunculi is shockingly revealed and they encounter the last human survivor of the downed Diplomatic Flight, discovering to their cost the uncanny and ultimately deadly atmospheric anomaly which has kept the plane a secret for decades and turned the crater into a vast geological radio set…

When the dust settles, Yoko realises she is trapped in the subterranean anomaly. With all her escape plans rendered useless she must align herself with the bizarre sole survivor and his bestial, rebellious servants, but she also refuses to give up on the recovery mission. Of course, that doesn’t mean that she has to trust anything the old relic in the hole or Major Dundee has said. With that in mind she lays her own plans to settle matters…

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

With this sleekly beguiling tale Yoko proved that she was a truly multi-faceted adventurer, equally at home in all manner of dramatic milieux and able to hold her own against the likes of James Bond, Modesty Blaise, Tintin or any other genre-busting super-star: as triumphantly capable thwarting spies and crooks as alien invaders, weird science effects or unchecked forces of nature…

This is a splendidly frenetic, tense thriller which will appeal to any fan of blockbuster action fantasy or devious espionage exploit.
Original edition © Dupuis, 1973, 1979 by Roger Leloup. All rights reserved. English translation 2015 © Cinebook Ltd.

Yoko Tsuno volume 9: The Forge of Vulcan


By Roger Leloup (Cinebook)
ISBN: 978-1-84918-197-6 (Album PB)

The uncannily edgy yet excessively accessible European exploits of Japanese scientific adventurer Yoko Tsuno began first began gracing the pages of Le Journal de Spirou in September 1970 and are still going strong.

The explosive, eye-popping, expansively globe-girdling, multi award-winning series was devised by Roger Leloup, another hugely talented Belgian who worked as one of Hergé’s assistants on the Adventures of Tintin strip before striking out on his own.

Compellingly told, superbly imaginative but always solidly placed in hyper-realistic settings sporting utterly authentic and unshakeably believable technology, these illustrated epics were at the vanguard of a wave of strips starring smart, competent and brave female protagonists which revolutionised Continental comics from the last third of the 20th century onwards and are as potently empowering now as they ever were.

The initial Spirou stories ‘Hold-up en hi-fi’, ‘La belle et la bête’ and ‘Cap 351’ were introductory vignettes before the formidable Miss Tsuno and her always awestruck and overwhelmed male comrades truly hit their stride with premier extended saga Le trio de l’étrange which began serialisation with the May 13th 1971 issue.

That epic of extraterrestrial intrigue was the first of 30 European albums, with this one was first serialised in 1973 (Spirou #1819-1840) before being released the same year as La forge de Vulcain. A spectacular earth-shaking rollercoaster romp, it was chronologically the third album and reached us as Cinebook’s ninth translated chronicle.

It all begins when Yoko spots a TV report of a disaster on an oil rig near Martinique and realises the drill has impacted and penetrated the same strange material – “vitreous, luminous and ultra-magnetic” – that was a basic building material of the subterranean aliens known as the Vineans

Those ancient wanderers had been secretly hibernating deep within the earth for hundreds of thousands of years until she, TV producer Vic Van Steen and his frivolous cameraman pal Pol Paris encountered them to set the lost race on a new path…

Now the Vineans seem to be at the heart of a burgeoning ecological catastrophe of cataclysmic proportions, and none too soon Yoko and the lads are winging their way to the Caribbean. Upon landing, they waste no time in bluffing their way into the offices of oil company Forex, aided by a few mementoes of their under-earth adventure.

They are, however, about to be unceremoniously ejected when news comes that the soon-to-explode rig has encountered a new problem: a strange craft, unlike any ever seen, trapped in the rig’s legs even as inexplicable seismic distortions propagate, creating an area of meteorological instability.

Yoko convinces the manager she has prior experience in matters like these and is promptly jetting over in a helicopter. Of course, she had to stow away first…

Before long she is valiantly prying a live Vinean and his scout vessel out of a boiling gusher of mud and has discerned the true scale of the threat. The rig’s drill has intercepted a Vinean magma tunnel – used in their construction projects – which has strayed too close to the oil field, triggering a potential geological time-bomb…

Thankfully the crisis has brought forth an unexpected benefit too as old friend and benevolent alien scientist Khanyarrives to take charge. The forthright technologist already has a plan but needs her old surface allies’ assistance to carry it out. Soon Yoko, Pol and Vic are abandoning the incredulous rig engineers and heading back under earth where an unpleasant surprise is awaiting them.

The Vineans had slept in huge, manufactured caverns for almost half a million years, but since recently reviving, internecine strife has entered the lives of the blue-skinned colonist/refugees.

In The Curious Trio, ambitious militaristic throwback Karpan made a play to seize power from the vast electronic complex known as The Centre which regulated the lives of the colonists. The blustering bully was ultimately frustrated by Khany and her newfound surface pals but now – thanks to humanity’s underground atomic testing – has returned to prominence amongst his terrified people and set in motion a dangerous scheme to destroy Earth’s civilisation and conquer the survivors.

Subverting a plan to divert magma and grow a new continent for the Vineans to occupy, Karpan wants to use the colossal magma-shifting technology to drown the surface world. Khany and her followers were already attempting to scuttle the scheme, but now grim fortune and the humans’ drill have damaged the super-engineered magma-tubes, a drastic solution is necessary to save the planet both species occupy from exploding like a cosmic firecracker…

Naturally Yoko has a plan, but this one depends as much on luck as her scientific ingenuity and martial arts prowess as she tries to mould lava like plasticine and thwart Karpan’s globally suicidal schemes…

As always, the most potent asset of these breathtaking dramas is the staggeringly detailed draughtsmanship, which benefits from Leloup’s diligent research and meticulous attention to detail, honed through years of working on Tintin.

Possibly the most frenetic and visually spectacular of all her adventures, The Forge of Vulcan is a relentless, rocket-paced race to doom or salvation that will appeal to any fan of blockbuster action fantasy.
Original edition © Dupuis, 1973, 1979 by Roger Leloup. All rights reserved. English translation 2014 © Cinebook Ltd.

Yoko Tsuno volume 6: The Morning of the World


By Roger Leloup translated by Jerome Saincantin (Cinebook)
ISBN: 978-1-84918-082-5

Indomitable intellectual adventurer Yoko Tsuno debuted in 1970 with the September 24th 1970 edition of Le Journal de Spirou and is still delighting regular readers and making new fans to this day. Her astounding all-action, uncannily accessible exploits are amongst the most intoxicating, absorbing and broad-ranging comics thrillers ever created.

The globe-girdling, space-&-time-spanning serial saga of the slim, slight Japanese technologist-investigator was devised by monumentally multi-talented Belgian maestro Roger Leloup who began his spellbinding solo career after working as a studio assistant on Hergé’s Adventures of Tintin.

Compellingly told, superbly imaginative and – no matter how implausible the premise of any individual yarn – always solidly grounded in hyper-realistic settings underpinned by authentic, unshakably believable technology and scientific principles, Leloup’s illustrated escapades were at the vanguard of a wave of strips revolutionising European comics in the mid-1970s.

That long-overdue attitude adjustment saw the rise of many competent, clever and brave female protagonists, all taking their places as heroic ideals beside the boys to uniformly elevate Continental comics. Best of all, the majority of their exploits are as engaging and empowering now as they ever were, and none more so than the trials and tribulations of Yoko Tsuno.

Her very first outings (the still unavailable and untranslated Hold-up en hi-fi, La belle et la bête and Cap 351) were simple introductory vignettes before the superbly capable engineer and her valiant if less able male comrades Pol Paris and Vic Van Steen properly hit their stride with premier full-length saga Le trio de l’étrange in 1971 in Spirou’s May 13th issue…

There have been 28 European albums to date – with a 29th being completed as we read this…

Yoko’s exploits include explosive escapades in exotic corners of our world, time-travelling jaunts and sinister deep-space sagas with the secretive, disaster-prone alien colonists from planet Vinea. However, for the majority of English translations thus far, the close encounters have been more-or-less side-lined in favour of intriguing Earthly exploits, but this tale stays strictly Earthbound while plumbing the depths of the fantastic…

Today’s particular tale was originally serialised in Spirou #2613-2630 and collected in 1988 as 17th album Le Matin du monde. Due to the exigencies of publishing it reached English eyes as Yoko’s sixth Cinebook outing; a time-bending mystery of glamour and action shedding a fraction of light on Yoko’s own shrouded origins…

It begins with Yoko and her new ward Morning Dew testing a new jet over Indonesia before reuniting with temporal refugee Monya. This time-travelling expatriate from 3872 AD (see The Time Spiral for further details) has had to settle in the present after her own timeline was overwritten, but she’s had a hard time adjusting and despite her best intentions regularly risks catastrophe by visiting other time-periods…

Monya originally came back in time to prevent a scientific experiment which would have resulted in Earth’s destruction by her own era. The voyager witnessed her father’s death and the planet turned to a cinder, relative moments before arriving in Yoko’s locale, so her predilection for exploration and meddling in earlier time periods is perhaps understandable…

Now, though, she’s gone too far: stealing a gold statue from its rightful era and endangering the life of a native…

Urgently summoned to help fix things, Yoko, Vic and Pol are quickly apprised of the situation. Monya has taken a sacred temple statue of a dancer from 1350 AD, a short time before history records the eruption of the Agung volcano and eradication of the entire community and civilisation dwelling there. Technically, Monya’s actions should cause no disruption to the timeline, but it has resulted in the long-dead priests condemning native dancer Narki to death for the crime…

A heated debate over the morality of keeping the immensely valuable statue versus using their time machine and attempting to save the life of a woman already dead for centuries consumes the adults. It only ends when Monya’s new acquaintance Mike – an obsessive religious fanatic – traps them all in the barn housing the chronal craft and sets it afire.

Compelled to use the time engine to save themselves, the entire party is plunged back to 1350 where Narki is condemned to die…

Befriending the local villagers, the travellers learn that the innocent scapegoat has been taken to the capital. Swiftly following, Yoko and Monya find her in a drugged state and determined to sacrifice herself to “winged demons” plaguing the city. Most confusingly, as they struggle to rouse her, Yoko realises that – somehow – she recognises the doomed Narki…

Desperate for solutions, Monya tries unsuccessfully to return the statue to the Brahmin priests, even as Yoko and her comrades assemble some clever 20th century kit they’d providentially stowed aboard the time-ship. Despite all their efforts, Narki is left to the mercies of the demons, and only Yoko and Vic’s spectacular intervention saves her from what turn out to be savage survivors of antediluvian vintage…

Yet, even after destroying one of the flying monsters and snapping Narki out of her trance, the future heroes are unable to save the damsel in distress. Accusing them of killing the gods’ messenger, Narki swears to throw herself into the now-erupting Agung volcano to expiate her sins and save everybody…

That pointless gesture is applauded by the priests, but again thwarted by Yoko and Vic, who snatch the dancer from the edge of fiery doom. They are, however, helpless to save the rest of the populace from the inescapable judgement of history and one of the greatest volcanic eruptions of all time…

Now the sole survivor of her civilisation, Narki makes no protest as Monya relocates her to another time and place she has extensively studied. And when the survivor is left with villagers in 1520 AD Borneo, Yoko realises with a shock how she knows the tragic temple dancer…

Complex, rocket-paced, explosively exciting and subtly suspenseful, this beguiling brush with paradox and passion blazes with thrills and chills, delivering a powerfully moving denouement which again affirms Yoko Tsuno as a top-flight trouble-shooter.

As always, the most effective asset in these breathtaking tales is the amazingly authentic and staggeringly detailed draughtsmanship and storytelling, which superbly benefits from Leloup’s diligent research and meticulous attention to detail.

The Morning of the World is an epic fantasy spectacle to delight and enthral all lovers of inventive adventure.

Original edition © Dupuis, 1988 by Roger Leloup. All rights reserved. English translation 2011 © Cinebook Ltd.