Hearing that Lucky Luke is close to their jail, Joe Dalton convinces the three other Dalton’s to escape and they go on a rampage through the nearby towns before settling into their hideout to plot revenge on Luke. In the meantime as Lucky Luke follows their trail, he soon realises that the Dalton’s revenge to is put up fake wanted posters about him that turns the nervous townsfolk against him. Luke’s only recourse is to find the Dalton’s on his own but all does not go quite to his initial plan.
This was originally printed as L’Evasion Des Daltons in the weekly Spirou magazine in 1958/59 and then published as an album in 1960 and, while it may be over half a century old, it doesn’t show its age at all.
Morris and Goscinny, as ever, have fun with the different heights of the Dalton’s be it with the depth of the river that they hide in after their initial escape or the different heights of the wanted posters they put up when trying to frame Lucky Luke. However my favourite panel in the whole book is one that doesn’t even need to be there, from a plot point of view at least, and shows Morris’ playful use of the comics medium as he illustrates the Dalton’s walking past a still lake which has the reflections of the four brothers and of the landscape around them as well as of the single speech balloon. It doesn’t need to be there, but it is charming that it is.
The plot falls into two distinct parts, Luke’s initial hunt for the Daltons and then the more unusual section with Luke as their not so reluctant prisoner. Indeed both parts go against type with those wanted posters making Luke the bad guy, in the eyes of the town folk at least, while the second part shows Luke’s cunning as, despite being a prisoner, he twists the Daltons around to doing what he needs them to do. Perhaps the funniest moment of this section is when Luke gets three of the brothers knitting until Joe puts a very red-faced stop to such craziness.
Lucky Luke – The Dalton’s Escape was a delight to read from start to finish and shows just how good Morris and Goscinny were when they worked together on the character.
• There are more details of the English language Lucky Luke books on Cinebook’s website.
• There are more details on the original French language Lucky Luke on the official Lucky Luke website (in French).