I was in the mood for some good old-fashioned adventuring after playing Uncharted 4, and I had heard this graphic novel described as a mix of Indiana Jones and Tintin, which seemed to fit the bill perfectly. It certainly did, and I’ve already picked up the sequel.
This is a breezy and fun adventure story set in the early nineteenth century Ottoman Empire. The title character, Delilah Dirk (great name), is a badass woman of Greek and English descent who has spent years honing her skills around the world – marksmanship in France, survival skills in India, acrobatics in Indonesia, martial arts in a Japanese monastery. She also has a flying sailboat. She’s the wise-cracking superhero of the tale.
The character that we follow is actually the Turkish lieutenant, Selim. He acts as the Watson to her Holmes, giving us a more believable character to inhabit while we’re spellbound by Delilah’s super-human prowess. They meet after she’s been detained by the Turkish Janissary Corps and Selim is tasked with interrogating her. Before long, they are both on the run, and they work well together until their differences start to become more apparent. Delilah can’t stay still for long, always looking for her next adventure, and Selim is a reluctant traveler at best. He’d rather take root in one place, connect with the people around him, and have a nice cup of tea.
I really enjoyed this. It scratched that pulp adventure itch, and the art was great, with a cartoon style that did an excellent job of conveying the characters’ expressions and the fast-paced action. I loved how Tony Cliff didn’t try to throw in a cheap love story and instead opted for the characters to bond in a platonic way, and I also loved how Selim’s character arc felt meaningful without becoming too sappy. It’s high adventure with humour and well-written dialogue.
This is probably considered an young adult comic, as there is some violence and murder, but it’s not graphic. It’s nice to see a story where neither of the main characters are the stereotypical white male adventurer. Don’t get me wrong, I love those characters and spent most of my youth imagining I was them, but it’s always great to see heroes that reflect a wider range of people.
The second volume, Delilah Dirk and the King’s Shilling, was released earlier this year.