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Friday, 21 March 2014

Wampus -A French Classic


Wampus volume 1
Writer:Franco Frescura Artist: Luciano Bernasconi
foreword by Will Eisner,
cover by Stephen R. Bissette:
Contains:Epilog in Manhattan by Lofficier & Bernasconi
Paperback book size: 20 x 12.5 cms
Black and white
231 pp
US$20.95 + $3.00 p&h
(European orders: send 25 Euros postage included)

Wampus is legendary. I’ve seen the odd page and, of course, read the Cool French Comics bio: http://www.coolfrenchcomics.com/

But when Jean-Marc Lofficier sent me a copy of his Hexagon Comics book it was the first time I had seen a full strip.  I sat down and read the book cover-to-cover and even went back to just look through the art itself.
WAMPUS is an alien shapeshifter who has been sent by an evil cosmic intelligence –the “Great Mind” – to destroy Earth.  He is discovered and pursued by French secret agent, Jean Sten.  If you’ve seen the TV series The Invaders then you know how Roy Thinnes’ character has seen the aliens but no one (initially) believes him so he goes off in pursuit of them and tries to thwart their plans.  This is the situation Sten finds himself in.

His boss, Alain Boucher, thinks Sten has lost it. When his fellow agents are called in to hear Sten’s story well, derision seems to be the best word to describe the reaction! A shape-shifting alien with power beam eyes behind a spate of sabotage incidents?  It’s not surprising that Boucher sends a couple of agents along with an ambulance crew to help Sten by taking him to a psychiatric hospital.  Luckily, Sten escapes.
The one thing that burns in Sten’s mind is the image of Wampus’ eyes –no matter what form he takes on those eyes remain!

Even when Sten corners Wampus something happens to prevent his capturing or killing the alien whose kill rate  is by now in the many thousands.  What is worse, Sten’s former colleagues think he is behind the sabotage incidents.

As for “The Great Mind” I have to admit that at one point I even wondered whether it was meant to be Satan!  Paris, Berlin, New York and Tokyo all suffer at the hands of Wampus and there can be very little doubt that not only is it one of the great comic book aliens but he is also one of comics greatest villains.
I can’t recommend this book enough.  We see the classic Franco-Belgian characters such as Tintin and Blake and Mortimer but Hexagon comics have made the wonderful decision to bring us the –wanting for a better word- the French ‘Marvel-type’ characters.

Even while writing this review I’ve stopped to read through the book again.  Volume 2…oh, how long do we have to wait for that?!

This is a nice chunky book and a great read.

Highly recommended.


Hexagon comics character biography:
http://www.hexagoncomics.com/wampus.htm
Bernasconi on Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luciano_Bernasconi
On the ever useful and first visited Lambiek:
http://www.lambiek.net/artists/b/bernasconi_luciano.htm

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