Largo Winch, vol. 2

Largo Winch 2Summary: A veritable secret war for power takes place behind the scenes in big financial groups. One of the most common methods of attack is the takeover bid: A would-be buyer offers to acquire all available shares of a rival at a determined price in order to control it. The W Group is attacked by business conglomerate FENICO. As if this were not enough, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service also takes on Largo Winch. Will he lose his entire fortune?

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Largo Winch, vol. 2, by Philippe Francq and Jean Van Hamme 7.0

This second volume of Largo Winch is quite literally the follow-up to the first book, without which this one is pretty much a nonsensical read. Most of it consists of exploring Winch’s background, how he was adopted, and how he rebelled but kept being reeled in by his adoptive father at crucial moments. It also sets up the corporate dynamics at Groupe W, as Winch confronts its powerful board of directors – after which it ties up the loose pieces from the first book, wrapping up this story arc.

The problem is that it’s all too simplistic, with Largo showing his hand right before he can take full control of the company. It just doesn’t make sense: he and his father have kept tons of secrets (including his existence) to themselves for well over a decade, and he’s done some dealings behind the scenes before meeting the board, and yet he cockily goes and reveals crucial secrets on which his whole plan hinges. It’s just not in character: he’s not exactly risk-averse, but he’s much more cautious than this.

As I was reading it, my impression was that the only reason Van Hamme did this was to add suspense and risk to the story, to punch up the ending – irrespective of whether or not it made sense. To me, this is poor writing, because there are plenty of other ways to build up tension. This is further supported by the inevitable twists and turns, the constant backstabbings, which show that he couldn’t have cared less about logic. Being backstabbed might happen once, fine. But this was turned into a soap opera for teen boys.

The book sometimes defies logic well beyond the limits of suspension of disbelief. For instance, if Largo knew about the conspiracy against him all along, and was already in league with Steven to double-cross the conspirator, then why would he announce his intentions to the whole board instead of playing his card close to his chest… as any normal person would do? He would have achieved the same results, but at least would have looked dignified. And why the masquerade with Steven when they were alone with the conspirator?

It’s all so convoluted, so full of BS.

The artwork remains extremely lacklustre for this type of book. Francq fills in each panel quite well and his layouts are okay, but he’s incredibly weak in the details (barely doing facial expressions properly, his proportions are off, …etc.). I would have to hope that he was merely at the beginning of his career and that he will improve substantially over the years (Largo Winch is a continuing series, with 18 volume thus far). As it stands, however, I would find it very difficult to read a series with this artwork for much longer.

All in all, ‘Largo Winch’ doesn’t bode well. This second volume seems to suggest that it’s going to be a haphazard mess of a book, likely popular for its incessant action and plot twists, but completely uprooted from reality. I can stand James Bond because he’s sent on the most outrageous missions, of the likes his fellow agents likely aren’t sent on. But Largo Winch is an everyman who was groomed to run the largest conglomerate in the world: there’s no way that he has to face such ridiculous contrivance.

But this was merely the first story arc. Perhaps volume 3 will take off in a different direction. We’ll see.

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