Following directly on story-wise from the previous book, Cinebook have released the second part of their latest Blake and Mortimer title, The Sarcophagi Of The Sixth Continent. Created by writer Yves Sente and artist Andre Juillard and originally published in French in 2004 as Les Sarcophages Du Sixième Continent Tome 2: Le Duel Des Esprits, this follows on from Part One in which the eternal Indian Emperor Ashoka pledged revenge on the colonial powers and Philip Mortimer in particular. That revenge came as a psychic attack disrupting the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels.
Blake and Mortimer have tracked the source of the attack down to the new Indian Antarctic base but having arrived on the sixth continent they are captured by Ashoka’s men. Blake escapes and makes it to the French base but Mortimer is taken to the underground section of the Indian base where Ashoka explains his plan which includes forcing Mortimer into one of the psychic sarcophagi. However Blake is determined to lead a rescue attempt using a French new submarine, the Subglacior.
After all the problems at the World’s Fair in the first book, and the very interesting back story of the young Philip Mortimer’s encounter with the Indian nationalist Ashoka and his beautiful daughter Gita, the second book becomes more of a traditional Blake and Mortimer action story with the two characters separated and imperilled both by the villains of the piece as well as the natural forces of earthquakes and volcanoes. The Subglacior, which was mentioned in passing in Part 1, comes to the rescue as Blake needs to enter the underground base although its ability to travel through solid ice by melting it and then travelling through the resultant water probably doesn’t bear too much thinking about. However that is irrelevant to the flow of the plot as Sente piles problem upon problem for our heroes with the Soviets siding with Ashoka as a natural disaster threatens everyone.
The anonymous and apparently immortal Ashoka remains the most intriguing character with the second book returning to the first book’s back story of the doomed love affair between Ashoka’s daughter, the Indian Princess Gita, and the young and oh so English Mortimer. The details of this in the first book are enhanced with the second book’s retelling of the tale from another person’s perspective and, while it perhaps gives the reader enough information to figure out who Ashoka is, it is an interesting twist to both the back story and the main plot.
Not as heavy going as many of the Blake and Mortimer books, The Sarcophagi Of The Sixth Continent Part 2 continues the enjoyable story from the first part and together they combine to make for a satisfyingly long adventure that sheds a surprising new light on the youth of one of the series’ main characters.
• There are more details of the English language Blake and Mortimer books on the Cinebook website
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.