Summary: Largo Winczlav, born in Yugoslavia, is an orphan. Thousands of miles away, one of the richest men in the world will change Largo’s destiny. This man, Nerio Winch, wants to find an heir to his empire and adopts Largo, offering him the best education. When his adoptive father disappears under dramatic circumstances, Largo inherits the W Group, the biggest conglomerate of multinational enterprises ever possessed and managed by a single man. From now on, he will be worth $10 billion. Which is not to everybody’s taste, as he is about to find out.
Largo Winch, vol. 1, by Philippe Francq and Jean Van Hamme 7.5
Truth be told, I literally don’t remember exactly how Largo Winch fell into my lap. Someone sent me a link to a list of notable French graphic novels and I’m guessing that this one was on it. Not sure. It may also be due to Van Hamme, the writer behind the ‘XIII’ series.
Either way, Largo Winch shows promise.
The story follows the inheritor of a 10 billion dollar fortune (in 1990 dollars) after the head of The W Group, Nerio Winch, dies under mysterious circumstances. Largo is his adopted son, a secret that the elder Winch had kept from everyone except his devoted lawyer.
As one can imagine, in a cutthroat corporate environment there are plenty of power-hungry people who would like to see Largo disappear, and some arrangements are made for this to happen. Thankfully, our protagonist, who is in Turkey, is a resourceful and gritty character.
Based on this one book, it looks like the series is going to be a blend of suspenseful corporate politics and action sequences, not unlike ‘XIII’ in tone, but with a different setting. The writing is quite typical of the genre, throwing at the readers one twist after the other.
My problem is that it requires a fair bit of suspension of disbelief. After all, there’s only so many twist one can pile up before it defies reason. And there are moments that make no sense, like when the Minister forgets his initial intention to redeem himself and allows Largo to be killed off.
The art was the biggest let-down for me. Van Hamme had a great partner in William Vance for ‘XIII’, but Philippe Francq is pretty sloppy, and much of his art looks rushed, unrefined. Perhaps he’s not up to the task of doing a regular series; perhaps the pace is too much. Whatever the case may be, it’s not great.
But it doesn’t change the fact that Largo Winch looks to be a fairly popular series: 18 volumes have been published since 1990, which is pretty telling, and all of them have been translated in English. Furthermore, a TV series based on the property ran for two seasons starting in 2001, and two movies have been produced.
‘Largo Winch’ has certainly piqued my curiosity: I’ll be giving it a few more chances. And, after a couple of volumes, we’ll see if the series is worth exploring fully, or I should just write it off as yet another convoluted jumble from Van Hamme. I hope that it’ll survive past its main premise – something ‘XIII’ didn’t.