|nezchan (nezchan) wrote in scans_daily,|
@ 2009-06-16 10:31:00
|Entry tags:||char: fantasio, char: spirou, creator: janry, creator: philippe tome, publisher: dupuis|
Spirou: The Valley of the Banned
I got a bit of encouragement in my last Spirou post to do some more, so I thought I'd start with one of my favourites of the Tome & Janry era, La Vallee Des Banees.
Unlike a lot of Franco/Belgian comics, Spirou wasn't creator-owned. So through the decades, there have been a number of creative teams. Most notable, of course, was Franquin's run which gave us a lot of the most memorable characters. The amazing Marsupilami (with its distinctive "Houba, houba" call), the somewhat less comic-relief version of Fantasio, his evil cousin Zantafio, the mad scientist and poor man's Doctor Doom, Zorglub, and more. So when the creative team of Philippe Tome and his artist Janry took over, they had a fairly rich universe to draw upon, even though they weren't allowed to use Marsupilami due to rights issues.
This particular story is from 1989, and is a sort-of sequel to a previous volume, La frousse aux trousses, but the only relevant bit was that our heroes, Spirou and Fantasio, were washed down a river and were presumed lost. They are lost, of course, but at least they're alive. For the moment.
Pulling themselves from the water, Spirou and Fantasio find themselves in a strange world, populated largely by creatures bent on doing them harm. And what creatures! As the narrator fills us in on a few, the series' sense of humour really asserts itself.
I love the little nod to Peyo's Smurfs, and does anyone else get a serious Mort Drucker riff off Janry's art? Lovin' it!
Anyhow, in the process of running afoul of a few of the beasts, Fantasio gets bitten by one of the most sinister of the already dangerous fauna, the insanity mosquito. He's quickly overtaken by hostility aimed at...Spirou, and immediately sets out trying to cause him (and pretty much anything else) bodily harm.
With the help of Spip and a conveniently placed boxing-glove tree, he manages to knock Fantasio into the water, where he vanishes. Lost, hurt, and concerned for his best friend, Spirou hears a call he never thought he'd hear again, and hope rises but...
Dejected, Spirou stumbles on until he finds an old encampment left by previous explorers lost in the valley, complete with the remains of one of them. But with them is a helpful book of notes, which explains more about the dangers of the valley and how to avoid them. What it doesn't give though, is a way out.
Fantasio resurfaces at this point, but his madness has progressed even further and he no longer wants to harm Spirou but kill him outright.
Spirou, resourceful as he is, breaks through a wall and escapes the flames. This leads him to a series of wall carvings in the adjoining passage that explains more of the valley's history, involving Mongols and such. But more pressing to Spirou is the still-active threat of Fantasio.
Fantasio's fourth-wall breaking cry of "Fantasio Magazine!" makes me laugh every time. Seems he's a bit jealous of the spotlight.
Fantasio manages to knock Spirou out and capture Spip, and all seems lost until a shadowy figure saves them by knocking Fantasio out in turn. Spirou wakes up to find Fanta tied up, and realizes that this is their only chance to get out alive. Spirou attempts to take them back out the way they came in, but the plan is almost destroyed by Fantasio, yet again. Spirou is bitten by one of the insanity mosquitoes and realizes that he's only got a short time or they both won't make it, once the madness overtakes them both.
Spirou comes to in a hospital, having been given an antidote for the mosquito's madness. But he's told that his friend is still extremely violent. As it turns out, it isn't the mosquito's madness afflicting Fantasio any more, but just his normal self. That doesn't mean that he's still not dangerous when separated from Spirou, even if he does have a lovely, colour-coordinated straightjacket.
In the end, Fantasio is freed and as sane as he usually is, but Spirou is left unsettled by the whole experience. However, Fantasio says he knows a "magaziiiine" that would publish it...
And what of their mysterious saviour, back in the valley?
All's well that ends well. In a sort of disturbing way.
Standard disclaimer: My French really isn't great, so if I have some details wrong I'd appreciate hearing about it.