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Review: Lucky Luke

Published On November 25, 2013 | By Richard Bruton | Comics, Reviews

Lucky Luke Volume 42 – Lone Riders, Volume 43 – The Bluefeet Are Coming!

By Morris, Achdé, Pennac, Benacquista.
Cinebook

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The latest couple of Lucky Luke adventures from Cinebook came along together, which gives me a perfect chance, reading them back to back, to compare the earliest Morris tales (The Bluefeet Are Coming is from 1958) and these very up to date tales of the Achdé, Pennac, Benacquista team (Lone Riders is the most modern Luke tale I’ve read thus far – 2012).

Whether it’s by the original creator Morris or by any number of teams since Morris’ death, Lucky Luke does stick to a tried, tested and very successful pattern; the laconic cowboy wanders into town, wrongs are righted, nefarious baddies are vanquished, and all goes back to how it was. The vanquishing is never that harsh though, nor are the villains ever that evil.

In the two volumes here, Luke comes up against first the Dalton Gang, and then Pedro Cucuraccha, the former the familiar foursome of repeat offenders, the latter a rather typically clichéd stereotype Mexican (Morris’s creations always did tend towards the broadest of racial and ethnic stereotype).

Lucky Luke 2

(Achdé art from Lone Riders)

In Lone Riders the Daltons finally have the big fallout always threatened, and head off for themselves, each planning to raise $1 million and take over as leader. each brother falls into their own solution, whether it’s the tried and tested hold-ups for Joe, casinos for William, politics for Jack, and Averell’s avarice comes up against his near continuous desire for food ending up with him creating a near nationwide chain of pizza stores.

In The Bluefeet Are Coming! it’s Luke up against Cucuraccha and a tribe of Native Americans, the Bluefeet tribe, who yes, paint their feet blue (marks them out from the Redfeet and Yellowfeet tribes anyway, and yes, we’re back with that racial stereotyping once again).

Lucky Luke 3

(Achdé art from Lone Riders)

Once the initial setup is over, both tales settle down to familiar territory, Luke taking a backseat whilst we watch the villains of the pieces try and inevitably fail at whatever they’ve chosen to do. You have Luke chasing down various Daltons, confused at their successes and even more confused by three quarters of the brothers seemingly going legit (or at least as legit as casino, politics and a restaurant chain with mafia connections can be anyway). Or in Morris’ tale it’s all about Luke and the town he’s wandered into being held to siege by the Bluefeet and Cucuraccha. The real laughs in both come from the cast around Luke, whether it’s watching the Daltons fall into new lives in new towns, the superstitious Sheriff and the opportunistic residents making do with what ever they can.

Lucky Luke 5

(He did Horsemeat way before Tesco. Morris art from Bluefeet)

Interestingly, both books are funny, but the laughs come from different places. Morris’ plot and execution is good, but his laughs come from dialogue, from puns, from wordplay, from short sequences of story buildup to deliver a laugh, like that six panel sequence above where the situation of the town under siege allows Morris to drop in a great horsemeat gag. The laughs in Lone Riders come more from the situations and the humour within them. Interesting to see the differences.

Also interesting to see the artistic differences between Morris and Achdé, between new and old Lucky Luke, the original and the younger pretenders. Initially the Achdé art actually looks MORE authentically Lucky Luke, but on looking at it in a little more detail what you’re actually seeing is a distillation of the essence of Lucky Luke, refined and changed down the years, super smooth, all the rough edges rounded off. It’s great to look at, but like any pure refined material it smooths off both the lows and the highs.

Take a look again at that horsemeat 6-panel sequence again, the figure work is rough, Luke’s face in panel 5 actually looks wrong, or at least wrong to those of us used to seeing later Luke. But there’s a beauty in that roughness, a perfection in the slight imperfection. For another example, nowhere in the Achdé drawn Lone Riders do we see anything quite as cinematically beautiful as this from Morris:

Lucky Luke 6

(Morris art from Bluefeet)

Or this beautiful iconic panel, where it’s suddenly less about Lucky Luke, easy-going cowboy and more a serious as hell proper western. Classic moment of Morris:

Lucky Luke 1

(Morris art from Bluefeet)

In the end, both Lucky Luke books work a treat, they’re both entertaining, both funny, both good reads. I prefer the story and gags of the later volume and the artwork of Morris. Luckily, thanks to Cinebook we have a fair few of both types to come before the series finishes (36 I think).

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About The Author

Richard Bruton
- Started in comics retail aged 16 at Nostalgia & Comics, Birmingham. Now located in Yorkshire, he's written for the Forbidden Planet International Blog since 2007. Specialising in UK Comics and All-Ages comics, Richard's day job in a primary school allowed him to build the best children's graphic novel library in the country.

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