Lucky Luke Volume 33: The One-Armed Bandit
Written by Bob de Groot, art by Morris
“Brothers Adolph and Arthur Caille are mechanical geniuses. They’ve just created one of the first slot machines and have presented it to their local senator, a notorious gambler. Much taken with the device, he agrees to send them on a tour of American cities to test the machine’s popularity. And, to escort them on this dangerous journey, he calls on his old friend Lucky Luke… So begins the wacky tale of how the one-armed bandit conquered the West!”
Volume 48 of the original, from 1981, and in the wake of Goscinny’s death, Bob de Groot took the writing reins for the first time, and it can’t help but feel different from the Goscinny penned volumes. Not badly written, just a different voice, and after getting so used to the way Goscinny did things, anything else feels different enough to make this a below par episode.
In that, it’s much the same problem as I had with the 2010 volume Lucky Luke Versus The Pinkertons by Pennac, Benacquista, and illustrated by Achdé.
The thing is, Goscinny’s voice was so strong that his Lucky Luke became the classic template for so many of the books that any change from that can’t help but feel somewhat below par.
But still, it’s a fun romp, with Luke accompanying a couple of inventors bringing their prototype slot machine to the wild, wild West. Along the way there’s the usual mix of comedy set-pieces and silly farce that marks a Lucky Luke tale, with de Groot using the gambling background well, with the slot machine wreaking havoc, no matter which side of the gambling divide the people find themselves on…
Those puritanical types in opposition find their defenses worn down and addiction taking hold…
Which those accustomed to a wager find the attractions of this new way to throw their money away all too exciting…
Best bit? Probably as they ride into Poker Gulch to show the slots to Senator S. Windle and we get to meet his somewhat unusual family:
So yes, a slightly below Lucky Luke episode perhaps. But because it never deviates too far from the template, it still manages to be a good read, still manages to be a sort-of classic.