Who is XIII? Presidential assassin? Special forces soldier? Psychotic killer? The questions continue in the third part of the XIII saga, All The Tears Of Hell, written by Jean Van Hamme and illustrated by William Vance.
Amnesiac XIII spent the previous book being told by everyone that he was soldier Steve Rowlands before being framed for the murder of two of Rowlands’ family. All The Tears Of Hell sees XIII imprisoned in a high security mental prison for the crime while the American establishment try to discover exactly who he is and why he assassinated the President. However prison may not be the safest place for XIII as the prison doctor attempts to break him with electro-convulsive therapy while the man known as the Mongoose, who XIII believes is out to kill him, threatens him with death by someone on the inside. In the meantime the mysterious Lt Jones has infiltrated the prison hospital…
Only three books into the nineteen book series and the plot threads are already getting convoluted with many of the characters from the previous two books making fleeting reappearances here. After a book as Steve Rowlands, XIII’s identity is back to being a mystery to both himself and virtually everyone else while the main plot element, a jail break, could so easily have let the book down it is to Van Hamme’s credit that it does not. While the ending to the jail break make be just a little too convenient, it sets the scene for yet another change of identity with, finally, potential allies for XIII to work with.
This is the last of the XIII series that had been translated into English by other publishers previous to Cinebook getting the rights to the books. From now on Cinebook are pushing into uncharted territory with XIII, in English at least. All The Tears Of Hell shows that the XIII story continues to be both thrilling and fascinating and that those ‘new’ stories really can’t come quickly enough.
There are more details of the English language XIII books on the Cinebook website.
There are more details of the original French XIII albums on the official XIII website (in French).
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.