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Comic Book / Largo Winch

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"I refuse to accept blind destiny. Luck comes and goes, you have to seize it. Bad luck comes and goes, it must be overcome. But I will never, never sit at the side of the road showing my wounds and shouting, 'It's destiny!'"
Largo Winch

Largo Winch is a Belgian comic-book series by Phillipe Francq and Jean Van Hamme, and published by Dupuis. The initial albums are actually adaptations of novels that Van Hamme wrote back in The '70s. The series deals with the misadventures of Largo Winch, the heir to a large company.

Media based on the comics include a 2001 English-language TV series, two French films (with the second released internationally as The Burma Conspiracy) and two video games, Largo Winch .// Commando SAR and Largo Winch: Empire Under Threat

This series contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: The first eight issues are based on the novels albeit in a different order (for example, the second arc O.P.A/Business Blue adapts the sixth and last novel). Starting with Golden Gate/Shadow, the comics feature original stories.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Several characters from the novels their names changed along with their nationality:
    • The Israeli Simon Ben Chaïm becomes the Swiss Simon Ovronnaz.
    • Largo's Argentinian girlfriend Aricia Del Ferril becomes the British Charity Atkinson.
    • Stephanie Killian-Vaughn becomes Solange Vandenberg.
    • Judith Warner becomes Melanie Wagner. This is possibly because Comic Book/XIII also has a Judith Warner. Her real name "Rifka Sharim" is the same in both media though.
  • Artistic License – Economics: Heavily averted. Van Hamme has an education in economics, and it shows. While Largo is the majority shareholder, it is made very clear he cannot leverage that to become a Majority-Share Dictator. Financial maneuvers are often important to the plot, and how they work are explained for the reader's benefit.
  • Becoming the Mask: Simon was hired by the villain Michel Cardignac to pretend to be Largo's friend but ends up as a genuine ally.
  • Beleaguered Assistant: Dwight Cochrane, the group's Number Two (well, Three) who just wants to be a corporate executive and make money, is particularly distraught by Largo's Designated Victim misadventures. Especially when he gets caught up in them (including getting shot, nearly taking a fire axe to the face, and in one case, doing time for a crime he was framed for).
  • Blade Enthusiast: Largo keeps a pair of throwing knives on his heels, and has plenty of opportunity to use them. He is often shown idly fiddling with a knife during business meetings.
  • Cartwright Curse: Poor Largo just CANNOT keep a Love Interest. Let's see... One leaves him because his fortune changed him. One died. One is a recovering addict. One is a Freedom Fighter. One is The Mole, but isn't, but is, then is killed offscreen. The most normal one is Put on a Bus and is more of a Friends with Benefits anyway. The sod just cannot catch a break.
  • Comic-Book Time: Largo Winch remains 28 years old and yet the setting around him has evolved since the first adventures. This is notable from Crossing Paths onward where modern technologies are omnipresent. The prequel The Fortune of the Winczlavs gives 1990 as Largo's birthyear which raises issues.
  • Compound Title: The Two-parter "See Venice..." and "...And Die" (the normal expression is "once you've seen Naples, you can die").
  • Crimefighting with Cash: Averted: Largo's enormous fortune is rarely of direct use to resolve the problem of the day, though it does help with the inevitable collateral damage.
  • Criminal Doppelgänger: Dwight Cochrane is accused of financial crimes when a picture is taken of him leaving an offshore bank (it's actually an actor disguised as him).
  • Crossover: Crossing Paths features Laurent Draillac who's the protagonist from 20 Years Later, another comic by Jean Van Hamme.
  • Decapitation Presentation: In "H", the villains behead the chemist Sveig Larsen and deliver his head on a silver plate to Largo.
  • Dirty Old Man: Gus Fenimore is said to have had chimpanzee testicles grafted to himself to supplement his failing virility. As he tells Largo, it's pure BS, but the ladies can't help but wanting to check for themselves.
  • Double Standard Rape: Female on Male: In Golden Gate, Simon - pulling a "prank" on Cochrane - hires three prostitutes who who violently drag the man on the bed, undress him while he loudly beg them not to, get him drunk by force feeding him a bottle of wine and before the girls force themselves on the poor man. Simon then takes pictures which he intends to send to Cochrane's wife. The whole thing is played for laugh. The double standard is made even more obvious when the villains of the same arc are running a sexual trafficking ring of women which is played seriously.
  • False Friend: Largo finds himself in a Turkish cell framed for a murder with a Swiss safecracker named Simon. When word gets out that he's the heir to an enormous fortune and company, the terrified higher-ups let him out, but the State Sec guy secretly has them shadowed to be murdered. This backfires on him, and with Simon and Largo now Fire-Forged Friends, they start looking for the person who had Largo framed in the first place. This leads to one of his company's CEO's, who... orders Simon to pull a gun on Largo, before revealing that he'd set up the entire thing counting on the two becoming friends)) to get Largo exactly where he wanted. What the CEO hadn't counted on was that his hold on Simon was guaranteed by holding Simon's adoptive mother hostage, which made Simon confess as soon as they were out of Turkey. Then Largo found out that the CEO's goons had tortured her to death... The CEO's death at Simon's was neither pretty, soundless, nor quick.
  • Forced Euthanasia: Subverted. Nerio Winch summons a man to his penthouse that he knows is plotting to kill him so Nerio won't reveal the man's crimes (one of the W Group's executives). The murderer is surprised at first, then learns Nerio has cancer and so it would count as a Mercy Kill. However, he also knows Nerio had arranged a Thanatos Gambit in case of murder, and instead throws Nerio off the roof.
  • Gold Digger: Two secretaries are employed almost solely to deal with Largo's hatemail and fan mail, the latter consisting mostly of women offering themselves or their daughters to him in exchange for a fraction of his colossal fortune (with nude pictures too).
  • Hide Your Lesbians: The page with Charity and Domi kissing in "See Venice..." was censored when it was prebublished "Le Figaro". By the time Butch Lesbian Silky Song was introduced, the authors were allowed to portray homosexuality without restraint.
  • Honest Corporate Executive: Largo tries to be a Benevolent Boss. Emphasis on tries, because he's facing vast conspiracies in addition to running a multibillion-dollar corporate empire.
  • Intimidating Revenue Service: The IRS is a central threat in the second story arc; Largo has just ducked and swerved through an international criminal conspiracy - which has killed over a dozen people as collateral damage - in order to claim his $10 billion inheritance. He barely has a chance to catch his breath and patch his wounds when the taxman shows up to claim ten percent of it. Things go into high gear when the taxman produces obviously stolen documents, smugly says that he received them from a "honest taxpayer eager to help his country's treasury" and the IRS isn't subject to rules of evidence anyway, then seizes critical assets during a hostile takeover by Gus Fenimore, threatening the entire company with bankruptcy. Over the course of the arc Largo discovers another criminal conspiracy - this time to place thousands of American companies under the control of Libyan terrorists, with the ultimate goal of all of them declaring bankruptcy on the same day during an economic crisis while the backers escape with the cash. Result: the financial crisis of 2007–2008 - visualized in The '90s (and described as being cheaper, and more effective, than a Macross Missile Massacre pointed at New York). As this conspiracy gave the IRS Largo's records, enabling them to seize his assets, the IRS unknowingly but willfully participated in high treason. Turns out there's one man who the taxman can't intimidate - the President of the United States, who orders Largo's assets un-frozen in time to shut down the conspiracy. Literally - he has to hijack a window cleaner's elevator, fight off the Big Bad who was masquerading as the window cleaner, smash the window to get in the board meeting and ask the Fenimore (the Libyans' Unwitting Pawn and figurehead for the takeover) for his pen to sign the documents, with less than a minute left to go.
  • Invisible President: Used when Largo's company gets targeted by a foreign plot to destroy the U.S. economy by secretly buying up majority shares in most Wall Street companies and running them into the ground at the same time, all for less than the cost of a missile barrage. Once the details are learned, he's debriefed at the same time as the President, who has a Face Framed in Shadow and Scary Shiny Glasses.
  • Lighter and Softer: While the comic isn't kid friendly, it significantly tones down the violence and mature content from the novels.
  • Married to the Job: The only point Nerio saw to getting married was to have an heir. But he was sterile, so that was a moot point and he never bothered with it as a result.
  • The Native Rival: In one arc, Freddy finds himself in a Love Triangle with a blind woman, with the deputy warning him that she's his (it's entirely one-sided on his part). Note that while Freddy is originally Israeli, the other two are rural Americans. The deputy later commits a Heroic Sacrifice to save the girl when she's taken hostage.
  • Naturalized Name: Largo Winch was born Largo Winczlav.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Simon was originally meant to be a False Friend to Largo. Unfortunately, the villain's method of ensuring Simon's loyalty (holding his mother hostage) caused Simon to confess, leading Largo to discover Simon's mother had been killed, causing the villain's very-much deserved death.
  • Non-Idle Rich: Largo may be the smartest guy in the boardroom, but he much prefers to serve as his group's private detective... whether they like it or not.
  • Non-Indicative Name: According to Largo, his new pilot Silky Song cannot sing at all.
  • Thanatos Gambit: Largo's adoptive father, Nerio Winch, uses this to start the series. After a lifetime of pulling people on strings he even tries to use his death to his advantage and arranges for a co-worker he wants to get rid of to shoot him — too bad the guy sees through the scheme and decides to make it look like suicide instead, asking him what it feels like not being in control for the first time before he throws him off the roof. And in the end the old guy still gets the upper hand when it turns out that he has secretly adopted an heir (the protagonist).
    • Notable is that Largo hates Nerio with a passion, yet carries out his will anyway.
    Nerio Winch: So you'll find along the way plenty of people willing to commit crimes to get hold of what I've left you. You'll find others, or the same people, who will try to push you down, to get rid of you. And that, I know you, is a challenge that you will not be able to resist. You have the right to despise me and to despise what I represent, Largo. But whatever you may think, I've come to know you well. You'll accept the inheritance I leave you because you love to FIGHT!
  • Sassy Secretary: Miss Pennywinkle, the CEO's secretary is a very proper older British lady and ruthlessly efficient at her job (another secretary notes that her leaving is the death of the W Group). She's also handy with a frying pan.
  • Setting Update: The novels were written in the 70's while the first album came out in 1990. Many things were altered to fit the period such as the countries.
  • Status Quo Is God: The series maintains its status quo with Largo always back at the head of his company and never committing himself in a relationship with any Girl of the Week. There are a few lasting changes like Freddy retiring to get married but overall nothing major happens.
  • Yellowface: In "The Hour of the Tiger", Largo disguises himself as a Burmese general to rescue Simon.
  • You Do Not Want To Know: Largo flies to Simon's aid with a commando of Triad mercenaries. Simon comments that he probably doesn't want to know what it took to get them there, while Largo confirms by saying that if they're to remain friends, Simon must never ask what it was (he finds out later anyway when the Triads come to collect: they want Largo to steal the original Tao Te King from a Chinese businessman after being invited by the latter).
  • You Watch Too Much X: Nerio's murderer tells him to turn his wheelchair around slowly. Nerio snarks that machine guns hidden in the arm-rests only exist in the movies.
  • Yo-Yo Plot Point: Largo being framed for a crime and having to clear his name happens in almost every arc.