The Scorpion: The Devil’s Mark in the first volume in Stephen Desberg and Enrico Marini’s amazing action adventure series!
What starts as a conspiracy by nine powerful families to save their power and privilege on the eve of the Roman Empire’s death turns into a millennia long conspiracy –Christianity itself at its heart!
Fast forward to the Renaissance, were we meet the Scorpion. A dashing rouge and tomb robber who makes a very, very healthy living “finding” religious relics and selling them to the rich and powerful of Rome, including the Vatican.
Life is good for our hero, until the sinister and powerful Cardinal Trebaldi takes an interest in him. Because the Scorpion bears the mark of the devil on his body and must be eliminated!
Hunted by the most powerful forces of his day, the Scorpion will have to use all his cunning, charm and skill to save himself.
Is he really touched by the Devil? Or is there something far more personal involved in Trebaldi quest to have him murdered?
What threat can one man bee to a political conspiracy that has survived for thousands of years?
Welcome to an awesome graphic novel series full of action, adventure in exotic places and some challenging ideas about Christianity and power! Read on to find out more…
Ancient Power Plays and Renaissance Tomb Raiders
The Devil’s Mark opens in the last days of the Roman Empire. The Nine Families, who have controlled and profited from Rome’s might for hundreds of years -meet to figure out how to maintain their power beyond the fall of the empire.
One of them has come up with an ingenious solution. He introduces the Christian Pope, successor to Saint Peter the infamous Jewish heretic.
The Roman then goes on to explain how a church, which will indoctrinate the people from childhood into believing in the new idea of good and evil will be the instrument of their continued rule over the world.
It’s here were we see that The Scorpion has deeper themes and doesn’t pull any punches.
Cut to Rome during the Renaissance.
The Scorpion and his trusty Hussar companion are on the prowl for the bones of a dead Catholic saint. After quickly disposing of the city guard, our rouges enter the catacombs under the city.
Searching through the underground burial chambers, we learn that the Scorpion is somewhat of a historian and explorer in his own right. He has studied the lives of holy men and women in details, and then profits from his knowledge through relic hunting.
While Scorpion and company are off tom raiding, Cardinal Trebaldi confronts a priest while a strange, exotic woman and armed monks clear out his church.
Under threat, the priest tells the cardinal that there is a rumor going around that many years ago a witch seduced a high ranking priest. And from this seduction, a child with the mark of a scorpion was born. A child marked by the devil himself!
Fearful the priest says that while he has not seen this mark himself, several women who have confessed to sleeping with this man have seen the mark.
Tebaldi’s monks immediately murder the priest and start hunting the Scorpion.
Sexy Gypsy Poisoners and Secrets from the Past
After selling his latest relic for good cash, Scorpion and his buddy go out to celebrate. While two of the tavern’s barmaids have a fist fight over who gets to take Scorpion home, he leaves with another. Naughty, naughty!
Expecting a night of passion, our hero is instead ambushed (in bed) by the sensuous Mejai. A beautiful and deadly Gypsy assassin, with a thousand poisons at her command.
There is real tension and chemistry between the Scorpion and Mejai, both are ruthless and amoral.
Through luck and skill the Scorpion is able to dodge the sexy ‘Egyptian’s’ assassination attempt. She also let it slip that a ‘Cardinal Eagle’ ordered the hit. So our hero visits a rich customer to find out which cardinal is called the eagle.
Turns out that a cardinal from the influential Trebaldi family is nick named Cardinal Eagle. To make matters worse he is also in charge of the holy inquisition and the newly formed order of armed warrior monks.
While Scorpion and his customer are chatting, he notices her guest –a stunning red-headed woman with very, very cold eyes. Hmm… I smell trouble!
The Scorpion decides it is time that he has a chat with Cardinal Trebaldi. Since cardinals are usually found in the Vatican, he gives himself permission to, literally, drop bye and say hi.
A fight with the Swiss Guards ensues and we get to meet the current Pope. He is a kind hearted old man who truly cares about his flock. But Trebaldi isn’t in the Vatican. During his escape, our loveable villain learns some unexpected things about his mother –who was burnt on the stake for witchcraft.
On the trail of the man who wants him dead, the Scorpion will become Mejai’s target once again.
Can our scorpion survive the power plays and intrigues of the mighty? Even if they go down to the very foundations of Christianity? Read The Scorpion: The Devil’s Mark to find out!
The Art and Writing of The Scorpion: The Devil’s Mark
Stephen Desberg brings his best game to the story and writing of The Scorpion: The Devil’s Mark! Like his fast paced, high-finance action thriller I.R.$ -the Scorpion is smart, relevant and action packed.
It has everything you’d want in historical adventure. There are enough accurate historical facts and geography in it to make it believable, while serving up a story of intrigue, survival and passion that is second to none.
While the Scorpion is a real rouge and very amoral, the story itself raises some deep philosophical, and spiritual questions.
If good and evil are ideas invented by man are they really real? If those at the top don’t believe in their system, is it simply a method for controlling the masses and exploiting them?
Enrico Marini’s art is beautiful. His vision of Rome feels real and period appropriate. The backgrounds are detailed and sometimes feel more like paintings than sequential art.
His characters are all unique, and he has great fun illustrating all the different body types and faces in the story.
Marini is also great at creating scenes that flow into each other. To me graphic fiction art is best when it makes me forget that I am looking at still pictures and makes me feel like I am watching a movie. And Marini delivers, he makes you feel like you are watching a big-budget historical action movie!
There is something that irritates me about the Scorpion series, however. It’s this:
What that means is that Cinebook, the awesome British publisher of Franco-Belgian graphic novels, has censored some of the illustrations in this book.
What, pray tell, is so horrible that they have to edit it out? Women’s breast…
Never mind the deeply philosophical (maybe even heretical) storyline about the Roman Catholic Church being an instrument of social control founded by an Illuminati-like conspiracy.
No! English speaking audiences will be outraged by uncovered boobies!!
Ok… I get it Cinebook has to play it safe with the US/UK market –too many people are easily ‘triggered’. The French have a very different relationship with sex and sensuality than many other cultures.
It’s just a pet peeve of mine, besides that The Scorpion: The Devil’s Mark is an awesome graphic novel!
If you like fast paced action-adventures with a historical theme, then The Devil’s Mark is for you! It features one of the coolest anti-heroes of modern Franco-Belgian graphic fiction, a solid conspiracy storyline and gorgeous art.
Get it today, it’s worth a read and will fit well into any graphic fiction collection that goes beyond the mainstream.
The volume of the Scorpion by Cinebook that we reviewed includes both The Devil’s Mark and The Pope’s Secret. Enjoy your reading!