This is my second visit to the world of Blake and Mortimer, a comic-album series which was originally a spin-off from Herge’s Adventures of Tin-Tin, but continued by a subsequent creative team. The main characters are British, and the story is set in the late 1950s. There appear to be continuing sub-plots between volumes, and many characters from previous adventures make appearances here, in a story set in the environs of the International Exposition in Brussels in 1958. This is an interesting adventure, which begins in modern(!) India, as a conspiracy of Indian princes is investigated by the authorities. The main character among the conspirators claims to be the Emperor Ashoka, returned from the dead, with mysterious powers and advanced scientific knowledge. It turns out that he hates Professor Mortimer for some reason; and we than get a long flashback to the young Mortimer’s return to British India from school for a visit with his parents who are based in Simla. On his way home, he meets and helps the young Blake, also on a visit to his own parents. Young Mortimer finds that his childhood Indian friend is now a firm supporter of the independence movement, and has gone his own way, though he remains at least civil to his old friend. He takes Mortimer to hear a speaker for the independence movement, who claims to be the Emperor Ashoka, returned from the dead… and who happens to have a daughter who Mortimer strikes up a friendship with. This does not end happily, and, I have to say, does lead you to wonder just who is in the Ashoka costume in the modern period… However, back to 1958, where the Professor is involved with the British Pavilion at the Brussels Exposition, and creating a radio link with a base in Antarctica – sixth continent of the title – where there is also an Indian base, which is housing the secret base of Ashoka, who is in league with the Soviet Union to test a new weapon using the link between the British base and the Exposition as a carrier wave… Blake, of course is also on hand, as he is investigating Uranium smuggling that co-incidentally is happening at the Exposition site.
This is an old-fashioned adventure story that I didn’t know were still being created. I shall be hunting down more of these volumes in my local librariesRead more ›