The Adventures of Blake and Mortimer: The Curse of the 30 Pieces of Silver, part one and part two

curse of the 30 silver pieces of silverProfessor Mortimer and Captain Blake are classic adventurers whose stories have a sometimes-mystical twist. In the first volume of this latest installment, their arch-enemy Colonel Olrik has escaped from prison and Captain Blake’s employers, MI6, send him to America to follow a lead. Meanwhile, Professor Mortimer accepts an invitation from a Greek archaeologist to investigate a stunning discovery: the possible location of Judas’s tomb and his cursed silver! Once in Greece, Mortimer meets the clever and daring Eleni Philippides, her fiancé Jim Radcliff, and her uncle, the distinguished archaeologist Dr. Markopoulos. They find themselves attacked by a gang of dangerous men who want the secret of the coins and Professor Mortimer is stunned to meet his old enemy Olrik again!

The second volume of the adventure reunites Blake and Mortimer and they follow the clues to the secret of the coins, despite attacks by Olrik, his mysterious employer, and betrayal from within their own group. In the fiery finale, they discover the secret of the coins, but must fight for their lives against Colonel Olrik, who is bent on having both revenge and the mystic power of the cursed silver.

These characters were originally written by Edgar P. Jacobs and their stories have been continued by various artists and writers, in this case, Jean Van Hamme and Antoine Aubin. The art has a classic, workmanlike feel with neat panels, crisply drawn figures, and subdued coloring. There’s not much individual feel to the art, but that’s understandable as it’s the continuity of the story that’s important. The art neatly fills out the dialogue and descriptive text more as illustrations than as a story in itself.

These stories were originally written in 2009 and 2010 and the events in them appear to be happening sometime after World War II. The time period is modern enough for Eleni to wear pants and for the FBI agent to have a female assistant, but they’re dated in showing very few female characters and some stereotypes. This story arc contains the strongest female role I’ve seen so far in the Blake and Mortimer stories, but Eleni is continually addressed by her first name or “Miss Philippides” despite her having a Ph.D. By the second volume, she has become a liability to the heroes. Jessie, the FBI assistant, is “half-Cheyenne” and although she dresses fairly normally and is mostly treated as an equal, her Native heritage apparently gives her improved eyesight and her role in the story ends when she goes off shopping with Eleni.

Despite these elements, this is the strongest Blake and Mortimer story I’ve read so far, with a mostly balanced treatment of the secondary characters and a strong mystery to hang the thrills and chills of the adventure on. This is also the story most likely to appeal to a wider audience, especially to fans of Indiana Jones or possibly Dan Brown’s novels. There’s no graphic violence depicted, although there are dangerous situations and offstage death and injury. Younger readers could generally read these as well as adults.

The Adventures of Blake and Mortimer: The Curse of the 30 Pieces of Silver, part one and part two
by Edgar P. Jacobs, Jean Van Hamme
Art by Antoine Aubin
part 1, vol. 13, 9781849181259
part 2, vol. 14, 9781849181303
Cinebook, 2012
Publisher Age Rating: