Holiday Gift Bag: Delilah Dirk

Already? Another visit to the Holiday Gift Bag? Well, we didn’t get new comics here yesterday because of a slowdown in shipping from last week’s ice storm, so I gotta have something to write about. So let’s talk about Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff.


You like swashbuckling adventure, don’t you? Nod your head — of course you love swashbuckling adventure. This story stars Delilah Dirk, an expert swordswoman, archer, and acrobat who travels the world stirring up trouble, and Erdemoglu Selim, a mild-mannered lieutenant in the Turkish Janissary Corps, whose greatest pleasures involve resting quietly and brewing excellent tea. Due to a misunderstanding — Delilah was robbing his employer, and Selim’s employer was an idiot — they end up on the run together, trying to avoid capture and execution while absconding with wonderful treasures.

Selim would really prefer to settle down alone in a quiet town, but he sticks with Delilah, partly out of duty and partly because everyone seems to want both of them dead. Actually, Selim might not quite admit it, but there are other benefits — adventure, flying boats, hair’s-breadth escapes, gold, tea, a beautiful woman who only almost gets him killed every few days… But will their amazing adventures end with them living lives of endless wealth or getting the pointy end of the headsman’s axe?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s an utterly beautiful comic. It’s a bit cartoony at times — and I know we’ve talked about how that ain’t a bad thing — but sometimes you turn the page and hit this astonishingly gorgeous landscape shot that completely transports you into the story.

Cliff is a fantastic storyteller — dialogue, characterization, body language are all hugely entertaining. Delilah and Selim are extremely appealing and charismatic people, and it’s a real pleasure to read about them, whether they’re gambling their lives against impossible odds or just sitting around their flying boat chit-chatting.

The action is just plain jaw-dropping. Bridges get blown up. Towers get holes punched in them. Bad guys get with swords and chairs, and thrown through windows, and clobbered with buckets and fists and feet and everything else they could get clobbered with. And there’s a flying boat. Did I mention that? A genuine flying boat. The action, again, is just plain jaw-dropping.

You’re going to want this for anyone who loves truly breathtaking swashbuckling adventure, for anyone who loves great comic book art, for anyone who loves fantastic female heroines and reluctant male heroes. Go pick it up, people, and do not delay.

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