Some time back I wrote a short but rave review about Cinebooks Long John Silver volume one. Well I've recently read volume two, Neptune, and my enthusiasm for this book has not wavered one bit. This really is the best thing I've read all year (and I've read a lot).
Not strictly speaking a sequel to Treasure Island, it takes place many years later. This volume resumes with our dysfunctional crew now several weeks out on their voyage to the Americas aboard the Neptune. Once again this volume focusses upon the characters rather than the plot but not to the detriment of either. We find out more about Captain Flint and the ruthless lengths he will go to in order to expose Silver's motives. And then there is Long John himself who gets more of the limelight this volume. We meet him here as he paints himself as the jolly old boy, regaling the crew with colourful stories of times past. Flint suspects the facade and wants to know what is Silver is hiding. And that pretty much sets out the stall for this volume.
Tensions rises, suspicions grow, a murder is committed and Flint and Silver allow a cabin boy to be brutally flogged beyond endurance in order to keep up the facade. This is very powerful storytelling by Xavier Dorison with some equally powerful, slightly old-school art from Mattieu Lauffray. The art is very atmospheric and given a nice muted colourscheme which serves the story well. Letterers don't often get much credit and it isn't clear who did it here but it complements the art nicely and unlike some translated books, it reads very clearly.
The denouement at the end involves Flint and Silver ina classic duel, clashing swords on the decks of the Neptune as a storm rages about them and giant waves crash down upon them. It is a stunning set piece, crying out to be made into a movie. But even if it isn't, this book alone is a stunning epic, every bit as classic as its source novel.