Blake and Mortimer (1946-) is a Belgian comic created by Edgar P. Jacobs, a friend and collaborator of Hergé (the creator of Tintin). The comic, which mixes traditional mystery and Cold War espionage stories with Science Fiction elements, stars two middle-aged brits: Captain Francis Blake, head of the MI-5; and Professor Philip Mortimer. Another important character is the duo's Arch-Enemy, the devious Colonel Olrik, whose appearance was based on Jacobs in his younger years.After the death of Jacobs in 1987, the comic has been continued by other authors and artists, including Jean Van Hamme, the creator of Thorgal and XIII, Yves Sente and André Juillard.In the Belgian Comics and Franco-Belgian Comics world Blake and Mortimer are still considered to be the pinnacle of exquisite artwork and storytelling. Their best known comic book album is "The Yellow "M"" ("La Marque Jaune") which has perhaps one of the most iconic comic book album covers in the entire history of comic books.
List of albums so far, chronological order
Edgar P. Jacobs albums
The Secret of the Swordfish Volume 1: Ruthless Pursuit, 1950note depending on the edition, the album also exists in a 2-volumes version (which is the original)
The Secret of the Swordfish Volume 2: Mortimer's Escape, 1953
The Secret of the Swordfish Volume 3: SX 1 Counterattacks, 1953
The Mystery of the Great Pyramid, Volume 1: Manetho's Papyrus, 1954
The Mystery of the Great Pyramid Volume 2: The Chamber of Horus, 1955
The Yellow "M", 1956
Atlantis Mystery, 1957
S.O.S. Meteors: Mortimer in Paris, 1959
The Time Trap, 1962
The Necklace Affair, 1967
Professor Sató's Three Formulae, Volume 1: Mortimer in Tokyo, 1977
Sequels released after Jacobs death in 1987
Professor Sató's Three Formulae, Volume 2: Mortimer vs. Mortimer, 1990note this one has actually been written by Jacobs but the drawings have been finished after his death
The Francis Blake Affair, 1996
The Voronov Plot, 2000
The Strange Encounter, 2001
The Sarcophagi of the Sixth Continent, Volume 1: The Universal Threat, 2003
The Sarcophagi of the Sixth Continent, Volume 2: Battle of the Minds, 2004
The Gondwana Shrine, 2008
The Curse of the Thirty Denarii, Volume 1: The manuscript of Nicodemus, 2009
The Curse of the Thirty Denarii, Volume 2: The gate of Orpheus, 2010
Interestingly, women were almost entirely absent from the series while the original author was alive, and those few there were never had action-oriented parts. It was a man's world, and then some.
Jacobs had included female characters in Le Rayon U. The reason he did not do the same for Blake And Mortimer was that publication laws for youth-oriented series had become stricter after World War II: it was implicitely forbidden to draw attractive women in comics for kids.
Affectionate Parody: The Adventures of Phillip and Francis by Pierre Veys and Nicolas Barral, published by Dargaud, the same publisher as the original books. Published albums include The Empire Under Threat, The Machiavellian Trap and the (supposedly) upcoming The Yellow "M" vs. Godzilla.
The Alleged Car: the German archeologist's vehicle called a survivor of automobile's heroic age, in Mystery of the Great Pyramid.
Animated Adaptation: Made during The Nineties, each of the story published so far (from The Secret of the Swordfish to The Francis Blake Affair, included). The four last stories ("The Viking's Bequest", "The Secret of Easter Island", "The Alchemist's Will", "The Druid") are entirely original ones. The series counts 26 episodes, for nine original stories and four new ones, each of one being divided in a two-parts episode. NB: in this series, the stories covering more than one album (The Secret of the Swordfish, The Mystery of the Great Pyramid, Professor Sató's Three Formulae) are no longer than the shorter ones.
Anonymous Ringer: It's obvious that the hostile superpower in SOS Meteors is the Soviet Union, but the country is never mentioned by name.
Averted, since the series continued after the original author's death.
There was an other aversions with the first part of The Curse of the Thirty Denarii, because of the death of the drawer. The drawings have been finished by his widow.
Author Phobia: When author Edgar P. Jacobs was two or three years old he fell down a seven metres deep old well. It took half an hour before he was able to be brought back up. This lead to a lot of stories where Blake & Mortimer are lost inside underground locations.
Brandishment Bluff: There is a scene in SOS Meteors where Blake threatens a suspect who is then revealed to be a disguised Olrik with his pipe in his in a pocket of his coat, brandished as it were an handgun.
Break Out the Museum Piece: In The Time Trap, the rebels of the 51st century have armed themselves with ancient weapons from the 20th and 21st centuries found in underground stockpiles.
One that's been waiting for two centuries in Strange Encounter: an ancestor of Mortimer's was kidnapped by the not aliens. He was said to be AWOL and ended up disgracied by the british army. When he comes back however three centuries later to warn of the impending not alien invasion, his name is cleared.
Conservation of Ninjutsu: Completely averted with the Swordfish: One is enough to near-completely outgun several battleships and an aircraft carrier (while it gets shot down, the heroes had another that was being fixed and finished the job), and when a dozen show up they wipe the floor that much faster.
Crapsack World: The future in both The Time Trap and The Strange Encounter is not a nice place.
Dangerously Genre Savvy: Miloch in The Time Trap: just in case Mortimer managed to not only avoid being sent to oblivion by the sabotaged time machine and somehow repair it, he also installed a bomb set to go off if the machine ever returned to the present. Mortimer only survived by sheer luck.
Darker and Edgier: the series after Jacob's death, which contain unveiled references to the Soviet bloc, escaped Nazis, and now Blake unkowingly taking part in the murder of his childhood hero, Lawrence of Arabia.
Olrik himself often has a dragon of his own - Sharkey is the most notable.
Elaborate Underground Base: The British military base in which is set most of the late part of The Secret of the Swordfish. Not just underground, but underwater as well, having three separate docks for each of its full-sized submarines, an electric train, and a natural bridge over a pit of spider crabs.
The Empire: The Yellow Empire in The Secret of the Swordfish.
"Condouisez ploutôt aoune brouette" ("you'd better drive a wheelbarrow" - without trying to reproduce the phonetic American accent), by an American soldier yelling on a French taxi driver in S.O.S. Meteors.
Also, Herr Doctor Grossgrabenstein in Mystery of the Great Pyramid.
One of Mortimer's first hints that he's in the Bad Future is when he sees the station names written like this. The rebel leader tells him that it was one of the reasons for the civil war.
Historical In-Joke: The Oath of the Five Lords includes an explaination for the motorbike accident which killed Lawrence of Arabia. It was a false accident triggered by the MI-5 to eliminate him because he joined Oswald Mosley's party. Blake was one of the agent who contribute to his death. Lawrence actually joined the British fascists as a MI6 mole. His murder was a rogue operation organized by a MI-5 officer to accomplish a revenge.
Hold Your Hippogriffs: Damdu uses vaguely Chinese-sounding threats like "the twin wu-t'chang await only my orders to drag you before the ten che-tien-yen-wang!"
Infant Immortality: Averted in The Sanctuary of Gondwana, the child-character dies a pretty horrifying death.
Japan Takes Over the World: The Yellow Empire is a Tibetan expy of Imperial Japan, with soldiers wearing Japanese-like uniforms and using World War 2 era German weapons. They even manage to conquer most of the world in the beginning of the story with a massive surprise attack on all major world cities (including sinking the U.S.' Pacific fleet).
Late Arrival Spoiler: Blake is murdered during the plot of The Mystery of the Great Pyramid. His eventual survival could have been a surprise at this moment, but he then reappears in each of the following albums.
Although the series is called Blake and Mortimer, most stories involve Mortimer as the main protagonist, with Blake sometimes barely even showing up at all. This was deliberately corrected years after Edgar P. Jacob's death by The Francis Blake Affair, which makes him the main protagonist for a change.
Curiously enough, SOS Meteors, where Mortimer is captured early in the book and Blake does most of the actions, was subtitled "Mortimer in Paris" in some editions.
Ashoka in The Sarcophagi of the Sixth Continent: while we learn that the "present" Ashoka is the daughter of her predecessor, we never learn who said predecessor was. Plus, the giant albino monkeys (which apparently have survived for 30+ years and can be summoned with a puff of smoke) are never explained.
Nothing of what Sheikh Abdel Razek does in The Mystery of the Great Pyramid is ever explained either.
Metatwist: Sort of, in The Oath of the Five Lords. Although the real identity of the actual villain is a twist by itself, said twist is not "Olrik is actually involved is the plot". Olrik himself doesn't appear at all in this story.
The Mole: Doyle-Smith in The Francis Blake Affair.
Monumental Damage: The Eiffel Tower, the Basilica of Saint Peter and Big Ben are all seen in flames in The Secret of the Swordfish.
More Dakka: The very first page of the entire series shows a tank that can fire five hundred rockets a minute.
Multinational Team: the scientists rescued by the resistance in The Secret of The Swordfish.
No Biochemical Barriers: The Voronov Plot begins when a Soviet rocket fall on Earth with an alien bacterium which carries a disease incurable for humans.
No Export for You: There were English translations of all published Jacobs stories, but nowadays they're quite expensive. Cinebook has put out a number of both Jacobs and post-Jacobs stories, although for some reason they've put the Jacobs stories out of order, and have yet to publish The Secret of The Swordfish, even though some stories reference it quite heavily. Then again, at three volumes, can you blame them?
No One Could Survive That: In The Francis Blake Affair, there is a scene during which Mortimer jumps from a high cliff down to to see, to escape his pursuers. One of them invokes the trope.
No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Averted in The Secret of The Swordfish. Mortimer being captured does not prevent the Swordfish to be built once the plans are recovered (though it was still Mortimer who knew where they were, but he was able to communicate their location before being freed).
Obviously Evil: One of the generals in Secret of the Swordfish has a Hitler mustache.
Offscreen Villain Dark Matter: Olrik's career could be summed up as "regularly has his ass handed to him by B&M". Why do evil governments and shady organizations keep hiring him? Why doesn't Sharkey look for a different employer? It simply makes no sense... unless Olrik has other succesful operations going on in the background, which are successful for the simple reason that B&M never come across them.
Reassigned to Antarctica: Literally in The Sarcophagi from the Sixth Continent; it is revealed that Major Varitch (a KGB officer) has been reassigned to a Russian embassy in India, as punishment for his intervention during the meeting between Blake and the Russian ambassador in London during The Voronov Plot.
In The Voronov Plot, there is a two panels scene with the mole entering in a restaurant to phone. Said restaurant is a copy of the Syldavian restaurant from Tintin's adventure King Ottokar's Sceptre, except it is set in Moscow instead of Brussels.
It seems to be an obscure Mythology Gag, as several Tintin adventures have been made with the collaboration of Edgar P. Jacobs. In fact, Tintin's author Hergé and Jacobs appeared as background characters in some Tintin books.
In The Septimus Wave, when Nasir is attacked by a Septimus clone, the panel shows his shadow, shaped like a famous picture◊ from Nosferatu.
The same book has Tintin appear in the background at Heathrow Airport.
Show Within a Show: The Septimus Wave has a short scene in which a play adapted from The Yellow M events is performed in London. All the audience turns into Septimus clones.
Spiritual Successor: Blake and Mortimer is one to Le Rayon U. Although the latter is set in a totally fictional Sci-Fi setting instead of The Fifties, it tells the adventure of a scientist, a military friend of him, and his servant looking for Green Rocks, while a spy from another country is the antagonist. They are respectively the ancestors of Mortimer, Nasir, Blake, and Olrik, who also have roughly the same appearance.
Truth in Television: British forces did have a secret base almost as cool as the one in The Secret of the Swordfish during World War II, only it wasn't located in quite the same place: it was the Rock of Gibraltar.
Video Phone: Their adventure "The Time Trap" depicts a dystopian far future in which communication takes place via camera-equipped wrist phones, for those who can afford them anyway.
Viral Transformation: In The Septimus Wave, the alien being which is mimicking Septimus is able to convert people in copies of itself from contact.
Weather Control Machine: The secret weapon of that totally-not-the-USSR hostile superpower to the East in SOS Meteors.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: In order to prevent the Bad Future caused by global nuclear warfare, the future humans decide to unite the Earth under the man closest to acheiving world domination: Basam Damdu.
Who's Laughing Now?: Septimus turned evil after his theories were ridiculed by other scientists. Then he brainwashed them into believing he was their god.
Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Miloch's posthumous revenge plan against Mortimer in The Time Trap is as follows: Step 1: Build working time machine. Step 2: Sabotage it so that it's borderline uncontrollable and anyone taken by surprise who uses it will go beyond the beginning of time and be Ret Gone or something. Step 3: Just in case, add a bomb set to go off in case the machine returns to the present. Step 4: Hope Mortimer is stupid enough to get in a machine built by a guy with an obvious grudge against him. You know Miloch, if you think about it, Steps 1 and 2 are kind of superfluous...