In Review: Lady S Volume 4 – A Mole In DC

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Born as Shania in Estonia, now a naturalised American under a stolen passport as Suzan, while blackmailed into espionage activities as Lady S, the leading lady of writer Jean Van Hamme and artist Philippe Aymond’s Lady S series has such a complicated back story that it took two full French albums to tell it. Her spy activities were met full on in the last book, Game Of Fools, when the CIA attempted to catch her and the European anti-terrorism organisation that she had been forced to work for was revealed to her and to the readers. However the latest book, A Mole In DC, has her living and working in Washington DC with her adoptive father James Fitzroy, a high-ranking American civil servant.

Widower James Fitzroy is in a secret relationship with the single President Donna Freeman who is running for her party’s nomination for presidential candidate for what would be her second term in office. While this would normally be a foregone conclusion, Senator Harry Glover is determined to effectively depose her and gain the nomination for himself by constructing the illusion of a mole in her presidential team, a mole who is passing information to the Russians before a critical negotiation with them takes place. He is also aware that James Fitzroy is sleeping with the President and that his adoptive daughter Suzan is not who her passport states her to be and so he constructs the mole allegations around her. Suddenly Lady S is at the centre of a FBI investigation that doesn’t just threaten her various double lives but her relationship with her father as well.

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This is the fifth album in the Lady S series to be translated by Cinebook and it originally appeared in the weekly Spirou comic before being published in France as Une Taupe A Washington in 2008. The series is up to the ninth album in France which is due to be published next week.

Lady S has always been in the shadow of Jean Van Hamme’s other modern-day series from Cinebook, the James Bond-like excesses of Largo Winch and the 24-like momentum of XIII, but it has always been a favourite of mine with Shania/Suzan being something of a reluctant modern-day Modesty Blaise. In the previous book, Game Of Fools, Van Hamme revealed the organisation that she had been forced to work for and I had my concerns that this would upset the balance of the series. Unusually with A Mole In DC Van Hamme almost appears to ignore the previous book and gives us a tale of G-Men chases and political machinations at the top of US politics. Basically this is a Lady S tale, complete in one book, that is closer to the earlier Latitude 59 Degrees North than to its immediate predecessor and it is none the poorer for it, coming across as it does as a mixture of The West Wing and Homeland.

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Philippe Aymond’s artwork is clear, neat and remains as grounded in reality as in the previous books. Lady S is no glamour puss adorned in outfits designed to titillate the reader, rather she is a young woman trying to get on with her job in the world.  While Aymond’s other characters rarely descend into even mild caricature, it has to be said that Senator Glover is physically portrayed as the fat cat that he comes across as in the story.

Lady S – A Mole In DC returns to the enjoyable twists and turns of the earlier books with its political machinations and the major threat that the main character’s complicated background is about to catch-up with her. If you enjoyed those Lady S books then you will enjoy this one too.

• There are more details of all the English language Lady S books on the Cinebook website

• The downthetubes reviews of the previous Lady S titles are listed below –

• There are more details of all the French Lady S books on the Dupuis website (in English).

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• There are more Lady S images, as well as preparatory sketches for the books, on Philippe Aymond’s blog.

•  Cinebook will be appearing at Thought Bubble in Leeds over the weekend of 23/24 November 2014. Their sales table will be in the Royal Armouries Hall.

News, reviews, interviews and features for print and on-line: Spaceship Away (since October 2005), Bear Alley (since February 2007), downthetubes (since June 2007), and Eagle Times (since October 2008). Plus DC Thomson's The Art Of Ian Kennedy, Titan’s Dan Dare and Johnny Red reprints, Ilex’s War Comics: A Graphic History and 500 Essential Graphic Novels, and Print Media’s The Iron Moon and Strip magazine.



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