In Review: The Scorpion – The Angel’s Shadow

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Writer Stephen Desberg and artist Enrico Marini’s The Scorpion returns in The Angel’s Shadow, the second part of the latest on-going story of the swashbuckling 18th century rogue and his battles with the less-than-holy Pope Trebaldi.

Trebaldi’s army of warrior monks may keep Rome in line but payment is required for their loyalty and the Vatican’s coffers are depleted. The Scorpion, as he continues to search for more information about his murdered mother and his own birth, discovers that a convoy is arriving in Rome carrying gold from Europe’s monarchs and that the monks are eager to be paid from its treasures. As the various families ranged against the Pope’s rule individually conspire to intercept the gold for themselves, the Scorpion decides that to turn the monks against the Pope that he must prevent it reaching the holy city.

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The last Scorpion book, In The Name Of The Father, began this new on-going story with a deluge of new characters along with their convoluted relationships to each other and either the Scorpion or the Pope. It left that book somewhat lacking in the action that Scorpion books tend to have so it is good to see that The Angel’s Shadow brings the action back to the fore as the multiple characters and plot threads start to weave together into the tapestry of this new story. It also gives readers a startling explanation of just who the French noblewoman Marie-Ange, who was introduced in the previous title, is and what her relationship to the Scorpion is – a relationship that his lover, Mejai, is none too happy about.

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Marini’s artwork on The Scorpion, and in particular his moody colouring, has always been a highlight of this series. In The Angel’s Shadow, with so much of the story set at night, his warm colours for the interior scenes contrast well with the cooler colours of the exteriors as the story moves back and forth between people and locales, while dawn at the end of the book brings yet another palate of colour. There are a lot of people and locales to deal with and, despite text boxes being a rare luxury, Marini’s art never leaves the reader in any doubt as to who and where the characters are.

Desberg’s intricate plotting and Marini’s beautiful artwork have long made The Scorpion a standout Cinebook title and The Angel’s Shadow continues this excellent marriage of writer and artist.

• There are more details of The Scorpion books on the Cinebook website.

• The next Scorpion book, The Mask Of Truth, is due to be published by Cinebook in November 2013.

• There are more details of the French Scorpion books on the Le Scorpion website (in French).

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