Yoko Tsuno 1After 17 years drawing vehicles and backgrounds for TINTIN, Belgian artist Roger Leloup stopped working under Herge and struck out on his own in 1970. The result, YOKO TSUNO, was a 24 volume series of craziness starring young Japanese sleuth (and electronics engineer!) Yoko and her two friends, Vic and Pol. Cinebook has decided to publish it in English, and this is the first of their efforts.

YOKO TSUNO ON THE EDGE OF LIFE is a very well told and very strange story. It all begins with Yoko's arrival in Rothenburg, Germany. A friend, Ingrid, is sick with what is described as a "mysterious" disease. After all other possibilities are exhausted, it's decided that the cause must be vampires. OR IS IT?!!?!.... As a mystery it's fairly run-of-the-mill, but the doll-like characters and bizarre situations reach a level of incredulity that turns this book into something else entirely. Which isn't to say it should be viewed purely as a curiosity. Leloup's storytelling is clean and skillful. I think he achieves everything he intends and the end result is a fast paced page-turner with some truly nutty stuff going on.

The only real problems I have with ON THE EDGE OF LIFE are born from the fact that it's the seventh book in the series, but the first published by Cinebook in English. While this lends itself well to the wackiness of the story, you still feel slightly displaced from page one. For example, Yoko's two sidekicks, Vic and Pol, show up with no explanation as to who they are or why Yoko would be so happy to see them. Yoko, as the protagonist, doesn't get that emphasis on character development that you would typically see in a first volume of a series, either. Honestly, though, these are small problems. YOKO TSUNO ON THE EDGE OF LIFE ends up being a goofy good time and I eagerly await the next volume, THE TIME SPIRAL, due out in January 2008.