In Review: Kenya – Encounters

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Kenya – Encounters is the second book in Cinebook’s translation of Leo (Luiz Eduardo de Oliveira) and Rodolphe’s (Rodolphe Daniel Jacquette) ongoing series of spies, extinct beasts and strange flying lights that is set in post war-Kenya.

Tom the native guide who survived the Remington expedition tells Kathy his story of what happened to the lost expedition. Having followed a huge giraffe–like beast until it trapped itself in a chasm, the expedition set up camp but fell out with each other as to whether or not to either capture or kill the beast. However something entered the camp and began killing the expedition members, a beast that Tom had never seen the like of before and which he managed to escape from by walking off through the wilderness. Tom now leads the investigating group of Kathy, Fluchs and Merlin back to the lost expedition’s base camp where they discover the barely recognisable remains of a melted jeep and see for themselves a living mammoth amongst a herd of elephants. However that is not the only unusual beast that they come across.

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Leo and Rodolphe, who share writing and artwork chores on this series, build on the teases that they gave in the first book for the extinct animals and also show off in a startling panel the beast that was only fleetingly and distantly glimpsed in the first book, the vicious predator referred to as the Yellow Ape. This beast, which attacked the lost expedition, and another even more alien creature discovered by the rescue expedition show that the series will be dealing not just with the extinct mega fauna known to science but also with creatures that are not in the fossil record. Kenya is very much a combination of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World with its expedition beyond civilisation to discover living dinosaurs and the TV series Primeval with its mixture of both extinct and future beasts transported to the present day.

However not every puzzle from the first book is clarified and the continuing teases of potential heat rays and UFOs, remembering that the series is set in the same time period as the Roswell incident, means that there is still much to learn in the remaining three books of this series. Indeed the readers soon discover what the rescue expedition to do not yet know, that Tom is not the only survivor of the lost expedition.

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The third member of the creative team on Kenya is colourist Scarlett Smulkowski who may not get a credit on the cover but who gets equal credit with Leo and Rodolphe on the final artwork page. Her colouring is at its best showing the setting sun on the wide African landscapes but also stands out with the various campfires and lanterns.

I said in my review of the previous book that “it certainly looks from this first instalment that Kenya is going to be an entertaining ride for its readers”. It may never dwell on the meaning of life or the deeper psyches of its characters but it doesn’t need to for Kenya – Encounters has taken this series to where I was hopeful that it was heading, into the realms of cracking adventure.

• There are more details of Kenya on the Cinebook website.

• There are more details of the original French Kenya series on the Dargaud website (in French).

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