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June 2020 Books Read Standouts: Lone Wolf & Cub, Vol. 1/Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn

Lone Wolf & Cub, Vol. 1: The Assassin’s Road

    LW&C is one of those things it’s hard to be objective about because of the gravity well created by its history and legacy; if you enjoyed The Mandalorian, the Hawk & Chick episodes of Bob’s Burgers, LoganRoad To Perdition or any other Badass & Child Duo media, you owe their existence directly to this comic. It’s one of the most celebrated, influential manga ever created, and so talking about it is a little like Beatles Week on American Idol; the odds are very slim that I have anything to say about this that no one has before, and it would be hubris to try. I will not make of myself an L. Ron Hubris.
    A samurai and his child (or a child, anyway) wander Edo Japan selling their blades to anyone who can afford them. Naturally he is More Than He Seems, and bits of that story are parceled out amid the miscellaneous jobs they take, with the promise of more to come in the subsequent volumes. The art is amazing, the pacing is masterful, and the instant I finished this volume I started the next one. If you have any interest in samurai stories, Badass & Child Duos, historical dramas, or experiencing one of the foundational works not just of a genre but of an entire medium, LW&C is for you.
    Personally I’m a big ol’ suckerfish for a father and son story of any kind thanks to garden-variety trauma, like so many of us, and this first volume doesn’t have quite as much of that as I’d like, I think because it’s trying to hard to establish itself on its other axis, the one with the stabbing, and in any event that’s not the kind of storytelling that can be both fast and good.

Score: 8/10 Cart-Wheels Squeaking In The Mist

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn

    Tintin (pronounced such that one would be forgiven for thinking that Han Solo once cut him open, needing his precious Belgian warmth to survive the frigid Hoth night) is a fellow of ambiguous age and improbable coiffure, who helps solve crimes and has adventures wif hims doggo, Snowy. He’s maybe a reporter? Or a civilian police consultant? Or just a vigilante the law refuses to stop??? In any event: pirate treasure, secret clue-scrolls hidden within three identical model ships, burgleman brothers and identical bungling inspectors who are definitely not supposed to be Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard.

Also, what’s a fella gotta do to get giant goldfish on his own knees around here?

    Tintin is often seen as the parent of the two-fisted pulp adventure serial, your Docs Savage, your Dicks Tracy, your Zorros, your The Shadows and similar, which in turn were the direct inspiration for Indiana Jones, Romancing the Stone and, eventually, Hellboy, Atomic Robo, and Planetary, thus bringing the comics-films-comics cycle around once more. I’m not saying those things would be different without Tintin, I’m saying without Tintin we wouldn’t have them. And in that sense, they’re a piece of genre history that are still incredibly readable and well worth your time to experience, in the sense that your granddad’s incredibly disturbing stories of coming home from The War with untreated shell-shock are how we eventually got First Blood.
    Tintin was first published in Belgian newspapers in 1942 and later bound into collections according to storyline, many of which have aged perfectly well as goofy adventure stories and many of which are, unfortunately if perhaps predictably, clownshit bonkers racist, and so the gentle reader is advised to avoid Tintin In The Land Of The Soviets, Tintin In The Congo, basically any variation on Tintin and LOL Foreigners. That said, The Secret Of The Unicorn is blessedly free of any such malarky, although your author reflects that this is probably because it uh, only features white people. Welp.

Score: 8/10 Hard-Earned Unbreakable Wallet-Chains

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