Eagle Strike: The Graphic Novel, by Anthony Horowitz, Antony Johnston, Kanako Damerum & Yuzuru Takasaki
Eagle Strike is the graphic novel adaptation of the fourth book in Anthony Horowitz’s incredibly popular Alex Rider series. Antony Johnston’s script has this version of Eagle Strike beginning with a flashback to some danger and intrigue in the Amazon fifteen years ago before flashing forward in time to the present day and the south of France, where intrepid teenager and reluctant spy Alex Rider is holidaying with his possibly/maybe/sometime girlfriend Sabina Pleasure and her family.
While Alex may well be determined never to work for MI6 again, he has a natural gift for espionage and is soon ditching sunbathing in favour of trailing assassin though not complete bad guy Yassen Gregorovich [previously encountered in Stormbreaker, the first book in the series]. Alex knows that Gregorovich is up to something but doesn’t figure out what in time to prevent an explosion at the Pleasure’s holiday home. Feeling guilty that he couldn’t do anything to prevent the injuries suffered by Sabina’s father during the explosion, Alex breaks the vow he made to himself and plunges back into the dangerous world of international intrigue and double-cross. He sets out to track down Gregorovich and his paymasters whatever the cost and before long uncovers a terrible secret, a secret that leaves him with only 90 minutes to save the world.
Eagle Strike is another excellent instalment in the Alex Rider series. Alex is a believable and appealing hero and, while the situations he finds himself in are extraordinary and sometimes rather outlandish, he always manages to battle through. He’s still only 14 but Alex is maturing fast and is willing and capable to stand up to threats that MI6 shy away from. The return of Yassen Gregorovich was well done, with some lingering questions from Stormbreaker being answered and some new mysteries begun. In addition to Gregorovitch, there were a good number of thugs and henchmen for Alex to fight, with Damian Cray being a menacing if loopy “big bad”. The machinations of Cray probably place Alex, as well as the world, in the greatest danger yet faced in the series.
Antony Johnson has done a great job of adapting the original Eagle Strike storyline and crafting it into a script that works well for the graphic novel format. There are so many action sequences involved in the story as well as dramatic fight scenes – Alex fights a bull and a giant snake as well as all manner of human nasties – that the book absolutely whizzes by. The dialogue is equally well-handled, with the exposition and flashbacks being incorporated into the text in such a way that the flow of the story is not disrupted. He does a good job of highlighting the vulnerability of Alex Rider as well as his steely determination and ability to fight the good fight. Some of the supporting characters have perhaps been a little sidelined in the adaptation in order to streamline the story and emphasise the action, but this doesn’t prevent Eagle Strike from being a great graphic novel.
The art from Yuzuru Takasaki [coloured and rendered by Kanako Damerum] is a great accompaniment to Johnson’s script and really brings the plot to life. The style is very fresh and clear, with the colouring being quite understated and the backgrounds uncluttered. The characters are generally drawn in a way that is in-keeping with their descriptions in the original book, although the faces and hairstyles do have a distinctly manga-like aesthetic that might not appeal to all. This new edition of Eagle Strike [as well as the reprints of the other graphic novels in the series] is a larger format to the original edition and this really helps to highlight the quality of the artwork and allow the detail to shine through.
Eagle Strike is a tremendously entertaining spy caper and the graphic novel should please Alex Rider fans both young and old.