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Comic Book / The Black Order Brigade

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The Black Order Brigade is a Graphic Novel published in 1980 by Enki Bilal and writer Pierre Christin. The story tells of a number of veterans from the Spanish Civil War, meeting for a showdown in the late seventies.

In the winter of 1977, a band of retired fascists from the Franco regime team up to avenge the election of a socialist mayor in a small Aragonese village called Nieves. All the inhabitants are killed, and only two days later, news reach a London newspaper. Jeff Pritchard, a veteran from the XV international brigade, is shocked when he discovers the identity of the terrorists, because he fought them before. Pritchard understands that his time is nearly gone, and decides to call some of the earlier brigadiers together for a final adventure. This leads to a reunion in the French Pyrenees, and the story follows the trail of the "black order brigade" from Spain to Italy, and from Italy through Switzerland to Germany, to the Netherlands, and finally back to the German-French border, where the ultimate showdown takes place. Prichard, being the Sole Survivor, retires to the Hebridees, where he tells his story.



  • America Saves the Day: The funding for this expedition comes from an American butcher`s union.
    • Subverted because the only American in the group, Donahue, dies from a heart attack before they see any real action. But his last words lampshades the trope:
      Good old rotten America pays yet another time. And I... just feel great...
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: Miguel Valino, the fascist leader, dies after being shot and tortured (by the heroes). News of this is related in a newspaper (at page thirteen, nontheless). Castejon is shown with the newspaper in hand, and a mischievous grin on his face.
  • Antagonist Title: The Black Order Brigade is the name the old fascists give themselves.
  • Anyone Can Die: And most of them do over the course of the story.
  • Badass Israeli: Katz, the Mossad agent. Also an Auschwitz survivor.
  • Badass Preacher: Castejon, the Basque priest, and former civil war brigadier. He is no less badass than any of the others.
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  • Deadpan Snarker: Castejon mostly. Also others.
  • Death Seeker: It seems the protagonists become this over the course of the story.
  • Determinator: The old brigadiers face several difficulties as the story progresses, including all the hardships advanced age give them: bad condition, weak hearts, arthritis, but that only slows them down. They stop at nothing, giving relentless pursuit all over Western Europe, until the final showdown.
  • Distant Finale: When regarding the protagonists and the antagonists and their role in the Spanish civil war, the story serves as this.
  • Easter Egg: The cover picture shows all the protagonists while young. Try to recognize each and every one of them.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Valino. When he steps out of his truck, he begins the massacre with the old fascist war cry Adelante! (Easy to miss if you are not familiar with the Spanish Civil War).
  • Females Are More Innocent: Maria does not take part in any violent action, and does not kill anyone.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: The old brigadiers. Especially Pritchard refers to them as "brothers".
  • Gorn: Blood flows quite often. It is, of course, one of Bilal´s specialities.
  • Gray-and-Gray Morality: Over the course of the story, the protagonists discuss this over and over. "Violence Inherent in the System" gets a check, and whether their methods are honorable. In the end, they agree on hunting the fascists down to annihilate them.
  • Intrepid Reporter: A former student of Kessler, Lotte, is clearly living this trope Up to Eleven. She works as a freelance journalist, and has important information on the wherabouts of the fascists. She got this information from a member of the Viking Jugend, "that kind of Asshole I had to sleep with to make him tell me anything". If you go that far for a story, you have to be intrepid.
  • The Mafia: The Italian judge diManno has to seek out an old mafioso to get information on the whereabouts and plans of the Black Order. It comes with a price tag, though.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Miguel Valino. His family name nicked from Rafael Garcia Valino, a Real Life fascist general serving in the army of Franco. The real Valino died in 1975 - this character might as well be his brother.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Lampshaded a couple of times, especially when two of the fascists are found dead in the Netherlands:
    I think they look a little like us...
    Please don`t say that...
    • Not to mention the last sequence, when Pritchard states that a number of "infamous old men were watched by other old men who possibly were just as infamous. They deserved hell, and we deserved it just as much".
  • Pyrrhic Victory: The fascists are hunted down and destroyed, but all of the main characters, except Pritchard, also perish.
  • Refusal of the Call: Only one brigadier declined (a multi millionaire Hollywood tycoon).
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The massacre on the Spanish village actually did happen.
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: Maria quits the search, returns, and then leaves again. She survives the story, of course.
  • The '70s: The story happens at that time. When the protagonists travels Germany and the Netherlands, it shows prominently.
  • Silver Vixen: Maria, the Polish author, is this trope, lampshaded because she actually gets the attention of far younger men. The other brigadiers also tend to lampshade this.
  • Smurfette Principle: A number of guys, and one girl, Polish Maria. She provides valuable information and clues a couple of times.
  • Sole Survivor: Pritchard. Justified because he is the narrator.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Played straight a number of times.
  • Swiss Bank Account: The Black Order Brigade is connected to one, obviously. The bank in question is monstrous. The Brigadiers discuss an attack on the building, sardonically mentioning the use of rockets (which they don´t have access to).
  • The Philosopher: Kessler, the German professor, writing on his work on epistemology.
  • Technical Pacifist: Barsac. Emphasis on technical.
  • This Means War!: Pritchard´s call for action has this trope written all over it.
  • Was It Really Worth It?: Pritchard asks as much at the end of the story, being the Sole Survivor, and has had all his friends killed "for a reason I cannot really remember".
  • Western Terrorists: The story begins with an act of terror from the "Black Order Brigade", complete with the publication of a tape explaining why they did it. Later, the former brigadiers, actually on their trail, trying to stop them from doing more harm, are counted in with the lot - and both sides are being tracked by Interpol. To top it all, we see the protagonists have a meeting with the Baader-Meinhof (Rote Armee Fraktion), a Real Life leftist terrorist group.
    • Lampshaded at the very beginning when the editor of Pritchard´s newspaper tells him that the Nieves massacre is a small incident, because such things happen on the continent every day.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The Black Order Brigade is supported by mighty fractions inside the old elitist system in Europe, like the Italian nobility, and also big shots in the bank business. The antagonists are about to give up the chase when they realize their enemies are sheltered inside a massive bulk of a castle, connected to a Swiss bank. Then, all of a sudden, news come to them that the Brigade has been smuggled out of Switzerland, and the chase continues. The implication is that the big shots of the capitalist class actually saw the old fascists as a nuisance and wanted them gone. On the other hand, they create more havoc and another terrorist attack as soon as they are able to.