Harry Octane is a race car driver who was involved in a careless accident that stole the lives of 27 civilians in Italy. Back in the United States, he is hired to delivered a “package” from the East Coast to the West Coast. But how much trouble is she and will they make it alive before the people hunting them stop the delivery?
Harry Octane is part of Glénat’s Plein gaz series of books featuring motor racing and car chase adventures. Christian Papazoglakis is a tenured motor comics cartoonist having worked previously on Michel Vaillant, the classic series of the genre, Chapman, and 24h du Mans. In this series he gets to write and draw fast cars, which is one of his specialties. While he is a wonderful car chase illustrator, his writing is lacklustre.
The actual story Papazoglakis offers readers would be consider an arc in any other comic books. There is no tension and no reason to care about Harry Octane. There is even less character behind the wheel. There are hints of guilt about the accident he caused in Italy, but very little to redeem the character in the story. There is little to allow him to grow into someone that will create the basis for an ongoing series. Now Glénat is trying to push Harry Octane as a regular series with multiple adventures. Having established the character, Papazoglakis may want to bow out and let a seasoned writer create a story that will make people care about Harry Octane.
Visually, I like this comic very much. Every character is distinctive. Papazoglakis knows what he is doing, especially when it comes to cars. Drawing cars in comics is a whole genre in itself and he can depict them from multiple angles without easily. He does not overpower the story with too many captions which force the reader to rely on the visuals for the storytelling. At the same time, so little happens that the story feels like it cheats the reader. As I approached the end I said to myself “is this it?”
I have also purchased volume two. In an upcoming review, we’ll see if Papazoglakis has improved his story or not. Harry Octane has not been translated from French to English yet.