When comics take on the colors of thrillers

♦ The return of Corto Maltese: “Berlin Nocturnes”

Revenge is a dish best served cold, and Corto Maltese has the patience of old sea dogs. When he learns of the murder of his friend, Professor Steiner, whom he was to find in Berlin, the adventurer sets out search for his killer. He will find on his way, in the capital of the fragile Weimar Republic, Nazi terrorists, communist double agents and the kindly enlightened members of a secret society…

Sixteenth adventure of the hero created by Hugo Pratt, and fourth under the pen of the duo who took it over brilliantly in 2015, these Berlin nights are really savored in black and white, the graphic talent of Rubén Pellejero asserting itself fully in willingly expressionist plates. The screenplay by Juan Díaz Canales (co-author of Blacksad) offers its share of twists, one foot in the fantastic, the other in great history.

Corto Maltese, volume 16, Berlin Nocturnes, by Juan Díaz Canales (screenplay) and Rubén Pellejero (drawing), Casterman, 72 p., €17; black and white edition, 88 p., €25

♦ The tribulations of a Russian in post-communist Russia: “Slava”

When Pierre-Henry Gomont started writing the first volume of Slava, a saga which will count three, the war in Ukraine had not yet broken out. However, he was already interested in the recent destiny of the Russian people, and in particular the period following the collapse of the Soviet bloc.

Through the comical tribulations of Dimitri, a devious trafficker, and Slava, a disillusioned former artist, are sketched, thanks to the liveliness of the drawing and the flexibility of the pen of Pierre-Henry Gomont, the contours of a country in full decomposition, between egalitarian ideal and savage capitalism. Long live the sequel!

Slavavolume 1, After the fallby Pierre-Henry Gomont, Dargaud, 104 pages, €20.50.

♦ A manga classic: “Banana Fish”

Fine features, clear eyes, messy blonde hair… Nash’s charm is formidable, but the 18-year-old is especially feared for his efficiency as a New York gang leader. Coming to crime to defend himself from mafia networks of child prostitution, he made strong enemies in the local underworld. His investigation into a mysterious drug nicknamed “Banana Fish”, which drove his brother crazy, will not help matters…

The breathless pace, the complexity of the plots and the characters, the expressive and energetic design made this series, written between 1985 and 1994, a thriller sometimes violent, often troubled, but always brilliant.

banana fish, by Akimi Yoshida, Panini Manga. 10 volumes, €16.99 per volume

♦ A chilling thriller: “Frozen”

Mental asylum, serial killers, isolated mountains… Ice, adapted from the eponymous novel by Bernard Minier, is a thrilling investigation. In Saint-Martin-de-Comminges, an imaginary village in the Pyrenees, workers discover the headless corpse of a horse, on which the police identify the DNA of serial killer Julian Hirtmann. But the latter is detained in the psychiatric center of the valley, still under close surveillance. For Commander Martin Servaz, the key lies in a fifteen-year-old affair.

The screenwriter Philippe Thirault and the cartoonist Mig sign a camera under high tension, with chiseled drawings and an interesting work of colors.

Ice, Ed. Phileas, €19.90

♦ Journey to the End of Hell: “Colorado Train”

It’s a forgotten corner of America. A former mining town, deep in Colorado, where mobile homes rub shoulders with other mobile homes, separated by dilapidated steel fences and overgrown with weeds. Between skate outings and fights, four teenagers try to kill time. But a member of the rival band disappears. His arm, torn off, is found half devoured. The four friends then decide to investigate on their own.

In this adaptation of the novel colorado train, by Thibault Vermot, Alex W. Inker (Serve the people, A job like any other, Ants the Red) transposes the story to the 1990s and deploys all its graphic talent to bring out a very dark atmosphere, à la Stephen King, mixing thriller and horror. Its black and white drawing, dense and powerful, takes the reader on a journey at breakneck speed, keeping the reader spellbound, to the terminus of a masterful book in its genre.

Colorado Trainby Alex W. Inker, Sarbacane, 249 p., €29

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