Morea v2 Cover Detail for The Dragon's Spine

Still Not Great: Morea v2, “The Dragon’s Spine”

The first volume in the series effectively served as the origin story. Now, the series can begin to find its own footing with in the second book.  In Christophe Arleston’s script, Morea has settled into her new roles as CEO and as part of some multi-generational secret society in the middle of a war, maybe?

Morea v2 Page 1

Actual dialogue: “Can’t I be rich and idle? I used to get paid peanuts to put in 40 hours a week.”

Morea, herself, feels a little more confident and stronger in this book, though she’s still prone to foolish, selfish decisions that come off more than a tad immature.  (She whines about not getting her morning run just as she begins it, anyway. She dodges her security detail, etc.) She’s tough to root for, to be honest, but not in that entertaining way that you’ll enjoy it.

The plot is just the set-up for a series of fight scenes and smaller action moments, most of which are well done.

The series does have the feeling of a cheesy 80s action thriller, with actresses chosen for their ability to look good in a mini-skirt and/or bikini, while the men act like over-the-top two-dimensional cackling Saturday afternoon serial characters.

The action scenes make good use of their settings, though, from a run through the city streets of Havana to a fight outside the courtroom building in Miami to a sword fight in the office, not to mention people getting thrown overboard from flying cars.

Thierry Labrosse’s art is clear to understand here, with nice detail in the architecture of the various buildings, and construction of the cars and other transportation vessels he draws here.  The coloring style is still weird to me, and doesn’t work.  The edges between the highlights and the shadows is still too crisp.

The little bits of action are fun.  The rest of it is just plot mechanics of the most straightforward variety.

 

Mythology of the Series

The TSA of Morea's future is ugly

The TSA isn’t as bad now as you thought it was, is it?

We learn more about the state of the current world in this book.  Why is Cuba an international trade capital?  And what happened to the United States?

We learn that the States has become, sigh, a stereotypical cliche of what a lazy writer might extrapolate it to be: a puritanical police state that the rest of the world shuns, and that nobody can enter very easily anymore, either.

It provides the dramatic backdrop necessary to carry the story, though, and puts all of our characters into tight spots that would seem impossible to get out of.

The best part of the Angels and the Dragons part of the story is the brief training sequence at Morea’s office, where her mentor attacks her like Kato in a “Pink Panther” movie.  We don’t learn any more of the backstory between the two groups here, but there are machinations in the present day.

 

Forced Romance

Romance is in the air for Morea, and it's a little disgusting

The most ridiculous part of this book is when Morea and her head of security are flirting and acting like quite the item. Putting aside for a moment the troubles the corporation would have with this relationship, it’s just not played very well.  It’s as subtle as an anvil dropping on your toe, and makes even less sense.  In the last volume, the security head was described as something of a gigolo, and Morea was destined just to be his next conquest.

Are we supposed to be happy for the two of them that they found each other now?  Is their budding romance supposed to be anything other that troublesome, fraught with peril, and kind of icky, knowing how sleazy he is?

Some day I hope to bet on a careful writer deciding a romance between two characters isn’t a necessity in a book that’s not about that at all.

 

To Be Continued

While the first volume was a complete story in one book, this one ends up a whopper of a cliffhanger.  I like that part.  I like that the book ends a the climax of a series of escalating events.  You start wondering how far they can possibly push this lunacy, and then they do.

I did check out the free preview on Comixology for the third book, which is the last available one in the series. It jumps ahead a year in time, which I find interesting.

 

Recommended?

No, not really.  There’s much better stuff out there to read than this. If you like corporate drama mixed with globe-trotting adventure, you’d do much better with “Largo Winch,” for example.

For some reason, I can’t help myself but to read this one. I think it’s mostly because I’m dying to see what crazy nonsense they’re going to pull next, and how awfully done it will be.

I don’t believe in guilty pleasures, but I think this might be the very definition of it.  Or maybe I like to think about how it could be done better. With that, it becomes an interesting thought exercise.

Morea v2 Cover for The Dragon's Spine

Click to buy at Comixology

 

(This is Pipeline BD 100 review #55.)

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