By Stephen Desberg and Enrico Marini
“The mysterious scarred man who was dogging the Scorpion’s footsteps took him away from his confrontation with Trebaldi, promising to take him to his father. Forced to follow but eager to know at last, Armando doesn’t resist. Meanwhile, the Pope resorts to desperate measures to make up his monks’ losses. Old enemies, new ones… Conspiracies and lies… Fifteen centuries of conflicts and plots come to a head as the truth is revealed at last, shattering all certainties and leaving many dead…”
Scorpion’s been about a couple of things across the 8 volumes; a search for the truth behind his mother’s death and the identity of his father. Except that’s merely the plot, the actual proper thing The Scorpion is all about is the swash and the buckle. Over these eight volumes we’ve had plenty of both. It’s still here in this eigth volume, but to be honest it’s rather lost in a frantic rush to solve those two plot points.
Last time our fearless, dashing, heroic lead was persuaded that Pope Trebaldi (boo, hiss, bad-guy) wasn’t his real father (sigh of relief from audience)… but then again, the one thing we’ve learned from Desberg thus far is that he does love a plot twist. No surprise to find out there’s a t least one more to come in this series finale.
Oh, did I say series finale? that’s a touch misleading, but before you take me to task I’ll explain. Everything here screams lead up to finale, all the sense of an ending is here, the pieces manoeuvred into place for one last confrontation in the Pope’s presence, the assembled family members of the Trebaldi clan, enemies, friends, lovers, potential future lovers… all look on as the dual parentage questions are finally revealed. It’s something that works… almost. If this were the actual end of the series it would have been fine. Sure, a little too melodramatic, a little too convenient, but these sorts of complex stories always dovetail that way to the end.
See, here’s the villain of the piece about to do the villain thing and explain things…
But get to the end of Volume 8 of The Scorpion and there’s an extra couple and despite having pretty much everything neatly resolved, wrapped up, bow on top, the works, Desberg throws a new plot point in that means the series can continue. Frankly it feels unnecessary. Worse, it feels exploitative, wringing everything possible out of the series whilst there’s a chance.
It’s been a series full of ups and downs, the stylings of it thanks to the art of Marini have been excellent through it all, whether he’s doing thrilling action or talking heads there’s a beauty to his work, chiselled and refined. There’s still some of the fun swash and buckle action here, but it’s rather lost, lower in the mix, overwhelmed by the exposition Desberg drops in; again that sense that he’s cramming it all into here to get things resolved. Or not, as seems to be the case.
In the end, I feel this will be where I leave the series, a natural ending for me. Enjoyable in parts, slightly cliched at times (for good and for ill), but one that should have ended quite naturally here.