Spooks 5: Megan, written by Xavier Dorison and Fabian Nury, artwork and colours by Christian Rossi, Cinebook, £7.99/$13.95
♦ In the United States, at the beginning of the 20th century, a secret society, the Century Club , infiltrates the highest circles of power.
To counter their threat, President William McKinley creates the SPOOKS (Specialists in the Odd and the Occult – though frankly that’s pushing the limits of an acronym) team to investigate, free from legal oversight. Richard Clayton, sponsor and commander of the SPOOKS, employs team leader Morton Chapel, English adventurer with a troubled past, to recruit an appropriate team in the style of Mission Impossible or The Dirty Dozen.
SPOOKS is an English translation of the Dargaud series W.E.S.T. (Weird Enforcement Special Team). Which frankly has a better acronym. The motley bunch of adventurers include Indian exorcist Angel Salvaje, sniper and bounty hunter Joey Bishop, enforcer Bart Rumble, and psychiatrist Kathlyn Lennox, daughter of Senator Lennox.
The theme is reminiscent of the game Red Dead Redemption, as it essentially the old West at its juncture with the modern world. SPOOKS combines real facts and historical figures with investigations into the supernatural. The stories are organised into two-part episodes, each ring bearing the date of the current year from 1901. The current volume Megan, therefore, is the start of a two-part story, which will be resolved in its partner volume Seth. After a difficult mission in Cuba, Morton Chapel has accepted Kathryn Lennox’s help in treating his daughter, Megan, who has been catatonic since she witnessed her father shoot her demented mother Madeleine. Chapel is convinced it was possession, not insanity, which the rationalist Kathryn finds difficult to accept. Meanwhile, Madeleine’s father, a mogul in the mining industry, plots revenge on Chapel.
For Jonah Hex fans, especially the ones that enjoyed the time travel sequence where Hex travelled to future Gotham to track a serial killer in the company of Amadeus Arkham, SPOOKS will be like a beautiful dream. Not only is the story possessed of a bizarre and twisted plot that will appeal to horror/old West aficionados, but the art by Christian Rossi is some of the best art I’ve seen in comics for quite some time. Rossi combines the storytelling skills of artists such as Alex Toth and Dan Spiegle, with a painterly quality reminiscent of Jon J Muth. And the man can spot blacks too! The opening sequence alone shows what can be done with mixed media and top-flight storytelling. This book is a little more expensive than some Cinebook productions because there are a full 56 pages of story. For the overall weirdness of the mise en scène, the complexities of the plot, and the absolutely gorgeous artwork I’d easily recommend this to anyone who would like to involve themselves in European storytelling at its finest. If you like Hellboy and similar work, please give this a try – you won’t be disappointed.