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Herge’s Adventures of Biggles in World War Three
on 30 January 2015
This is the third volume of the adventures of Blake and Mortimer, a European comic-album series, though this particular story began as a serial in the first issue of the European ‘Herge’s Adventures of Tin-Tin’ comic book, which began publication in 1946. The main characters here are British, the head of MI5 and a top scientist respectively, and the story is set in the late 1940s. This particular story begins with a World War III in the late 1940s, as a mysterious Evil Yellow Empire based in Tibet (standing in for the recently-defeated Japan of World War Two) sets out to conquer he world, and succeeds, with a lightning atomic war. Our two heroes escape from Britain with the plans for a secret weapon – the Swordfish – and make their way towards a secret base somewhere in the Middle East. They are pursued by Colonel Olrik, a mercenary officer in the employ of the Emperor. The first volume ended with the heroes cornered by Imperial troops in a village in (or near) Afghanistan. The second saw them escape, with the help of a loyal Indian soldier, and make their way to the coast of Oman where the secret base is to be found, and the secret weapon - the Swordfish of the title - is put into production. This volume sees a spy/saboteur get into the base and start to sabotage it, and the Imperial forces slowly close in on the location, as the Swordfish nears production. There is a final big battle at the Imperials assault the base just as the first Swordfish near completion…
This is an excellent old-fashioned adventure story, with superb “European” artwork, but slightly wordy dialogue. The main part of the story deals with events in the secret base, and the final chapter - this was originally a serial - reveals the Swordfish and its effect on the enemy. The assault on the base is shown in graphic detail, and the story manages to capture the ‘feel’ of what another war at that time would have been like. It also manages to visualise a lot of fairly advanced technology that was to appear shortly afterwards. This is an excellent conclusion to the serial.