Time for another look at some of the delights of the Euro comics scene. This week, it’s the long-running series, Yoko Tsuno, the electronics engineer teen whose adventures take her across the world and even through time and space…
The 15th volume of Yoko Tsuno is a more grounded adventure than some have been. No time travel, no adventuring into outer space, just a solidly constructed thriller with the typical technological touches that are a key feature to any Yoko adventure.
In Wotan’s Fire, Yoko’s friend, Ingrid, has asked her to come visit her at her work on the restoration of Eltz Castle, Koblenz, Germany. But it’s soon apparent to all that Ingrid’s invitation has nothing to do with the collection of antique musical instruments she’s there to authenticate – and that’s where Yoko’s tech skills come in.
Ingrid’s discovered a piece of mystery tech, something that’s somehow controlling electricity, something that turns out to be the final work of a physicist attempting to develop some kind of death-ray, capable of unleashing the Wotan’s fire of the title.
And of course, like clockwork, Yoko’s involvement comes just as things really start to get interesting, with a criminal gang attempting to get their hands on the Wotan technology. It’s a good job Yoko’s here, as it’s exactly the sort of adventure she’s an old hand at by now. And once we’re off and running, Yoko and friends are off on another mad-cap chase, lots of different locations, lots of racing around getting in trouble, and all the while the tech aspects feature heavily.
If it’s all very familiar; all the travelling, the intrigue, the different locales, the mystery, the teen hero… it’s no surprise, as Roger Leloup’s Yoko is very much in the Tintin mould of comics, albeit a modern updating with the technological parts always there. But being derivative of Tintin is hardly a bad thing, hardly a criticism of Yoko at all, after all, Herge’s intrepid boy reporter really did set the tone, artistically and thematically for so much of the ligne claire (clear line) style of European comics.
And with Yoko, Leloup takes the Tintin template and goes with it, making comic adventures that are so wonderfully light, so lovingly drawn, and always deliver a reading experience that motors onwards, onwards, ever onwards for the reader – a straight-forward adventure done really well.
Leloup’s artwork is really the epitome of the European ligne claire (clean line) style, the strong and unfussy linework dominates the page, complete with bright, vibrant colouring, and the traditionally somewhat cartoonish figure work contrasting with the super-realistic backgrounds. And as with so many of these adventure or comedy Euro works, Leloup’s Yoko tends to stick to the page layout of two-tiers of storytelling on the page.
And in his heroine, Yoko, he’s crafted a wonderfully smart, brave, tenacious, and intrepid – a perfect modern heroine who’s always getting into wonderfully high-tech adventures. It’s a great example of how to make excellent all-ages, female positive comics, and something that really deserves not just your attention but that of any kids you want to get into comics.
Yoo Tsuno Volume 15: Wotan’s Fire by Roger Leloup, published by Cinebook, May 2020.
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