In Review: Blake And Mortimer – SOS Meteors

Originally published in 1959 as SOS Météores, this was the eighth of the, to date, eighteen Blake and Mortimer albums. However as Cinebook have been jumping around in the original publication order this is actually their sixth Blake and Mortimer title.

British scientist Phillip Mortimer is sent to Paris to investigate ongoing freak weather that appears to have a human cause. While travelling in the dark to the house of the head of the French Met Office, Mortimer is involved in a series of unusual traffic incidents and eventually a crash. The next day the French police suspect him of involvement in the disappearance of his taxi driver and he retraces his route on foot in the daylight. This leads him to the grounds of a country house where unusual things are going on. Meanwhile MI5 chief Francis Blake is in Paris on other business when he gets caught up in his French equivalent’s investigation of another case, a case that Mortimer would be helpful with except that he seems to have gone missing…

Rather than being a Blake AND Mortimer book this is very much a Blake OR Mortimer book as our two heroes arrive in Paris separately and it takes quite some time for them to finally meet up and their story strands to come together. With story and art by the series creator Edgar P. Jacobs, SOS Meteors is set in a 1950s world where a gentleman scientist would know his foreign contemporaries and speak their language perfectly. Indeed the plot would not have looked out of place in the early James Bond films with its international intrigue and science fiction devices. Jacobs’ art is ligne claire with nicely detailed vehicles for the protagonists to use throughout the story which does rather revolve around motor vehicles and includes one major car chase.

Annoyingly the text size increases and decreases depending on the size of the speech bubbles although this is presumably to allow a workable translation to fit into the original French language bubble size some of which, typically of Jacob’s Blake and Mortimer albums, can take upwards of half a panel to tell the ongoing story. But this is a minor complaint and the only real let down of the book is the cover. With its nonsensical machines, jagged lines and garish colours swamping a small Eiffel Tower it is uninspiring, but after forty years promoting the book in the French speaking world it isn’t about to be changed now.

However don’t let the cover put you off. SOS Meteors, with its British characters investigating a science fiction tinged plot in 1950s France, is a good example of Edgar P. Jacobs’ Blake and Mortimer stories and does not require any prior knowledge of the characters or situations to be enjoyed.

The next Blake and Mortimer title to be published by Cinebook will be The Affair Of The Necklace which is scheduled for January 2010.

The details of the English language Blake and Mortimer books are on the Cinebook website.

The official Blake and Mortimer website (in French) is here.

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