Saturday, February 22, 2014

Milan K. Part 1: The Teenage Years by Sam Timel & Corentin

Milan K. is one of those European comics that are fantastic action from the first to the last page, but unlike American comics without the suits and spandex. Milan K. is much in the vein of XIII and probably even more like Largo Winch. So if those are the sort of books you enjoy, don't hesitate to pick up Milan K. from Humanoids.

In the first part of this collection we get to know Misha, the son of a billionaire oligarch named Khodorov. No problems on the horizon for this boy you'd think. However on the first few pages his father is asked by a Russian minister to "confess" he has sold crude oil under the table and thus avoided having to pay taxes. Khodorov tells the minister he hasn't made any such transaction and that he won't confess to anything. At the same moment the police arrests Khodorov and he's put into the Russian gulag. Misha from now on wil be taken care of by Igor, one of his father's friends.

Five years later we meet Misha again in a boarding school in Switzerland. His father is still imprisoned, but he calls Misha every now and then to tell him stories about his family. He also tells him Misha can fly to Russia with his stepmom and her three children. Unfortunately for Misha the plane will leave a day earlier which means he can't spend time with his girlfriend, who has just invited him to come over without Igor, if you know what I mean... Misha is stubborn though and he goes to her place anyway not caring aboutt the plane leaving with or without him. Laying on the bed together half undressed Igor lifts Misha of the bed and takes him to the airport anyway. Because they arrive late, Misha's stepmom is furious and decides to leave Misha behind. Luckily for Misha he wasn's allowed to come, since the plane is purposely shot from the sky by the Russians, killing his stepmom and her kids. Assumed dead, Misha and Igor go into hiding and adopt new names.

What follows is Misha and Igor in lots of action, but never stupid action if you know what I mean. Every action sequence has a meaning and serves Sam Timel's well thought out plot. Timel knows where he's going with the plot and gives more and more depth to every character that appears in this book as we get further into the story. Timel takes Misha, later known with other names and eventually as Milan, to places around the globe. The book starts in Moscow and Switzerland, but later while on the run Misha and Igor go to Los Angeles. Trying to save Igor from a coma Misga also  travels to the Cayman Islands and New York trying to get possession of one of his father's companies that could pay for Igor's operation....

Now a little about Corentin's art... Dynamic and full of detail is what would describe Corentin's art best. I've seen his art compared to Francois Boucq's somewhere else and I can certainly see that. However I think Corentin's drawings are more detailed and less sketchy. He really knows how to capture the environment the story is set in. Vivid colouring that's very well suited to the location. The action sequences pop off the pages and at times it feels like you're in the middle of a movie. That's not strange though, since Timel started writing this book as a movie script.

I can go on and on about the story and the art but I'll keep on telling spoilers then. Just remember this: Milan K. is an action packed thriller with a believable plot and wonderful art. The book is very accessible and if you want to venture into European comics, this is probably the best place to start. The story could have derailed easily or could have turned into cheesecake galore, but Timel and Corentin keep it all together and deliver a quality book, both plot and art wise.

Humanoids' release of Milan K. is a complete edition that features the three volumes as they were initially published in France. And at the same size as the original French release. I can only praise Humanoids for giving us the books as they were meant to be released. So check out Milan K.!

Milan K. is published by Humanoids | $29.95 | ISBN: 9781594650727 | Buy it here

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