Jack Wolfgang T.2, Le Nobel du Pigeon, by Stephen Desberg (story) and Henri Reculé – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Jack Wolfgang. T.2, Le Nobel du Pigeon, by Stephen Desberg (story) and Henri Reculé (art).
Brussels, Les Éditions du Lombard, June 2018, hardcover, €13,99 (62 [+ 2] pages), Kindle €9,99.

Here is the latest installment in the Fred Patten and Lex Nakashima service to notify you of high-quality French-language animalière bandes dessinées that are not likely to be published in English.

This is album #2 in the Jack Wolfgang series. I said of #1, “The Jack Wolfgang series looks like it’s designed for the Blacksad market. The main differences are that John Blacksad is a private investigator, and his cases are crime noir with excellently drawn anthropomorphic animals. Jack Wolfgang is a C.I.A. secret agent, and his adventures are, well, too light and too exaggerated for the James Bond market. Say they’re Kingsman clones, with a mixture of funny animal and human secret agents saving the world from megalomaniac funny animal and human villains.”

The humans and the animal-people share the same society. The carnivores have not had to eat meat since the invention of super-mega-tofu several centuries earlier. The humans and animals are supposedly equals, but in actuality, the humans look down on the animals. Jack has to fight this in his CIA human superiors as well as among the world criminals he goes after.

Jack Wolfgang’s cover identity is as the “more elegant than George Clooney, cooler than Tex Avery’s wolves” (vol. 1) leading food critic for the New York Times. This supposedly allows him to go to all the major cities of the world to check their top restaurants. In actuality, he goes to where the CIA sends him, or to where his leads take him. In vol. 1, Enter the Wolf, he met Mme. Antoinette Lavaux, a sultry panther-woman jewel thief who was not officially involved in his case then, so he did not have to bring her in. Since then, by implication, they arrange to meet in the top night spots around the world – Rome, Monte Carlo, the Côte d’Azur, Biarritz, San Francisco, etc. – when they are not “on duty”.

In vol. 2, The Pigeon’s Nobel, the villain is Lord Horace Beckett, a billionaire pigeon (“l’oiseau le plus riche au monde”) in the tradition of James Bond’s Auric Goldfinger. His riches have enabled him to rise to the top of society; to buy whatever he wants. But what he wants is respectability; to prove to everyone that he is more than just a nouveau-riche. To be given a Nobel Prize. However, the Nobel selection committees cannot be bought. So Beckett arranges for the assassination of everyone above him who is likely to be awarded the Nobel Prize. And why stop with a single prize? Economics, Physics, Mathematics… a Peace Prize wouldn’t hurt, either. If he isn’t given at least three Nobel Prizes, not only will he order the assassination of any possible competitors, and of the Nobel selection committees themselves, he will order his agents around the world in control of computers to bring civilization to a stop. Credit cards won’t work; machines at transport windows won’t issue airplane or ship or train tickets; medical prescriptions will go unfilled; BWAHAHAHA! And the omnipresent global delivery service that the CIA’s agents rely on to bring them the secret-agent gizmos that they need at a moment’s notice … well, who do you think is the owner of that company? Agents like Jack will suddenly find themselves not getting the high-tech guns and similar hardware that they’re counting on.

Before Lord Beckett becomes the obvious villain when the CIA is still trying to discover who is murdering the world’s leading economists and scientists, CIA headquarters in Virginia puts Jack in charge of the mission. But to satisfy those humans who consider the mission too important to be left in the paws of an animal, Jack will be guided to go after only the actual hitman. (Pieter-Jan Glock, a stork.) The real mission to unmask who is behind the killings will go to the CIA’s top human agent.

Every secret-agent adventure introduces a sexy woman, as either a partner or a femme fatale. In The Pigeon’s Nobel, it’s Kellyanne Bongo. (That’s her on the cover, holding a gun.) If you can imagine someone who looks like Beyoncé, is also a #1 martial artist, and is actually a bonobo with extensive plastic surgery …   Mme. Lavaux has only a walk-on appearance in this volume. It’s Kellyanne Bongo and her henchmen, Jonas Swamp (alligator) and Kevin Prince (gorilla) that Jack shares this adventure with.


Fred Patten

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