Largo Winch Vol 16: 20 Seconds

By Francq & Van Hamme
Publisher: Cinebook
ISBN: 9781849183239

Sixteen volumes in and the series has built quite a supporting cast, a tangible world in which the stories take place, and set a rather high bar for quality. This means Van Hamme and Francq have some creative flexibility to play with, and they use it here, placing the titular character almost in the background of his own story and allowing the supporting cast to come to the fore.

Following directly on from the previous volume, and remaining in London (astoundingly illustrated, by the way) Saidee’s unfortunate circumstance of having more than one master have led her to be restrained by a rogue CIA agent. A jihadist group are moving forward with their plan to attack a board meeting of the W Group and all factions have the support of a Russian businessman who is orchestrating events for us own nefarious benefit. Largo has fallen heavily for Saidee and her sudden disappearance has left him distracted and unfocused, so the attention turns to his close associates and friends to drive the story forward and, ultimately, to thwart the plot laid against Largo.

Once again Van Hamme excels at executing a multi-character narrative with several intertwining plot threads, which in turn is mirrored by Francq’s highly detailed and engaging art (with full credit to the colouring team too). There are interesting and daring explorations of global current affairs but they’re approached in a matter that appreciates the situation’s various shades of grey. I’ve said it before that as a premise Largo Winch doesn’t sound as if it should work, but Van Hamme’s gift is to treat Largo’s W Group as the equivalent of a country in an espionage novel and throw all the threats and potential menace at him as if he were the embodiment of ruling dignitary and top spy. This is what keeps the series fresh, relevant and interesting, and should be all the endorsement you need to read it.

And if you liked that: Visit for the previous volumes


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