AGENZIA ALFA (1997)
After Nathan Never and Legs Weaver, the other extremely efficient members of the Agenzia Alfa also gained the right to a series of their own: at first yearly, and then twice yearly, thanks to the fertile imagination of the indefatigable Serra, Medda & Vigna and their co-workers. So readers can now follow the individual or collective endeavors of Nathan and Legs' colleagues: the secretary Janine Spengler, the computer freak Sigmund Baginov, the burly Al Goodman, the robot Link, the playboy Andy Havilland, the two sisters May and April Frayn and the enigmatic Jack O'Ryan, the man whose disfigured face is hidden by a new artificial face. A veritable task-force of science fiction musketeers who, in the name of justice, do not hesitate to take on truly impossible missions, including comets that have been forced off their orbit, sentient computers and incredible cosmic phenomena!
I GRANDI COMICI DEL FUMETTO (1997)
Comics with the Bonelli griffe are famously a synonym of Adventure, and therefore of realistic stories, in which humor is an accessory element, even though it may at times act as a fundamental basis for the stories (as in the case of Zagor, Mark and Dylan Dog). Therefore this publication, with its emphasis on all that is comical and humorous in the Bonelli comics, occupies an important position in the history of the Buonarroti Street Publishing House. For not only is "I grandi comici del fumetto" extremely attractive as a publishing product (with full color annual albums), but it is also the expression of a highly significant project: that of hosting cartoonists who have turned smiling into a genuine mission. In line with this approach, the great master Benito Jacovitti was invited to preside over its inauguration, and for this occasion Jacovitti created "Cocco Bill diquaedilà", a crazy extravaganza surfing through the commonplaces of the western genre, in the company of the very popular cowboy who will only drink camomile tea. The unforgettable Jac "Lisca di Pesce" was followed by other celebrated names of made-in-Italy illustrated humor: in 1998 and 1999 Bonvi and Giorgio Cavazzano respectively wrote and illustrated "La città" (a blend of weird and mysterious stories set in the urban jungle of our own days, with its metropolitan tentacles closing in around us), and then "Maledetta galassia!", a science fictional trip into deep space, amid ominous alien entities and surprising discoveries. In the year 2000, the guest of honor was Antonio Terenghi who, with scripts by Alfredo Castelli, re-staged his ultra-famous Pedrito El Drito, the long-moustached sheriff, over whose unbridled passion for alcoholic beverages his strict wife Paquita tries in vain to gain control.
MAGICO VENTO (1997)
Magico Vento's stories unfold against a background of the Wild West where reality can turn into a nightmare. With his unpredictable and restless character, Magico Vento, for which Gianfranco Manfredi created both the subject and the scripts, is the launch pad of a new and absolutely original trend in fiction, springing from the blend of two much-loved and inspiring genres, the western and the horror genre. Magico Vento's world consists of the vast open spaces of the Great Prairies of Dakota, roughly in the 1870s, i.e. in the period following the War of Secession, when the transcontinental railway had only just been inaugurated and the dogged determination of the white man to civilize the West was about to result in seizure of even more land from the Native Americans. Although he is a medicine man, a shaman and a warrior, Magico Vento is not an Indian, but a former white soldier (whose real name is Ned Ellis), who has sided with the Sioux. Because of a fragment of metal that lodged in his brain, Magico Vento has lost his memory and therefore he knows nothing of his past, but precisely this traumatic event has opened up in his mind a window on the future, of which he has premonitions through dramatic prophetic visions. At his side, he has an intelligent and determined friend: journalist Willy Richards, known as Poe on account of his amazing resemblance to the famous writer. Together they must avert the wicked schemes plotted by their enemy number one: Howard Hogan, a diabolical wheeler-dealer, thirsty for power and determined to unleash new wars against the Indians in the name of the ruthless march of civilization. In the course of this saga that is full of unexpected developments and sudden turn-arounds, Magic Vento leads his readers towards the discovery of a Frontier infested by demons, specters, apocalyptic beasts: a sphere of the unknown where the supernatural may be lurking just ahead at any time.
Born in Italy but brought up in Africa (at Addis Abeba, to be precise, where he worked as a policeman at the Italian embassy), Napoleone Di Carlo has returned to Europe and has chosen Switzerland as his new homeland. He lives in Geneva, where he runs a small hotel, the Hotel Astrid, situated in a quiet secluded district. Here, he would like to devote himself to his great passions (criminology and entomology), but his friend Dumas, a police officer in Geneva, begs him for assistance, and so Napoleone is periodically compelled to set his hobbies and his normal occupations aside and embark on complex and risky investigations ("poised between the thriller and the noir genres", as was trumpeted in the blaze of publicity with which the series was launched). It is here that he reveals his talent as an investigator and his strong points as a man of action. The most remarkable aspect of this unusual character created and written by Carlo Ambrosini is, however, his ability to enter into communication with some strange creatures (invisible to everybody except himself) that emanate from his mind and dwell in a dream-like surreal landscape governed by rules of its own, a weird and wonderful world situated "above the ponds, valleys, mountains, woods, clouds and seas, beyond the sun, the ether and the boundaries of the starry spheres". Napoleone has to contend with these three creatures - the nymph Lucrezia, the little man with the face of a fish, Scintillone, and the butler Caliendo - even in the most dramatic or tension-laden moments, a circumstance that gives rise to scenes intensely pervaded with humor and subtle irony.
In 2029, despite the desperate attempts by scientists and world governments to avoid a collision, a giant asteroid crashes onto Earth, irremediably altering the planet's climatic and geological status. The Sun is blotted out and the Earth is shrouded in perennial night. This is the beginning of the "Great Darkness", a prolonged period of decadence and barbarity, dominated by anarchy and a climate of unspeakable violence. It is in this post-apocalyptic and medievalizing scenario that we find Brendon D'Arkness, the protagonist of a new series created by the script-writer Claudio Chiaverotti. Brendon lives in Nuova Cornovaglia, in a decrepit ancient mansion enlivened only by the presence of Christopher, a sort of puppet powered by solar energy, the final legacy of the Old Era. Having grown up sheltered under the wing of a master weapons instructor, Brendon becomes a knight errant, a mercenary who sells his skills to anyone who demands his services. Yet although he has embraced this disagreeable trade, he still retains a considerable measure of humane compassion, which always compels him to side with the weak and the underdog. He is a free wild spirit, crepuscular but not devoid of irony. A hero who fights against the monsters generated by the sleep of reason, in a world that seeks to rise from the ashes of the old world, yet cannot free itself from its own ghosts.
Thirty-ish, with short dark hair, like her eyes, far removed from the stereotype of the top model, Julia Kendall has a naturally elegant figure, with a slender and highly-strung body reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn, and features which, while not classifiable as belonging to the canons of classical beauty, make her definitely quite fascinating. Julia is fragile, reserved, averse to any form of violence. Yet she has embarked on a difficult and highly risky profession: that of the criminologist. And although she has resolved not to use firearms, in difficult situations she knows how to defend herself and she can summon up unsuspected energy. A criminologist like Julia is well versed in all fields of police investigations: she's an analyst, a psychologist, a detective, an anatomopathologist, specialized in careful detection of all the traces that can be scientifically uncovered at a crime scene. Her main preys are serial killers, but her field of investigation also ranges over the world of crime in general. Julia's method of investigation is based not only on the scientific knowledge she has acquired, but also on her own personal instinct, a special kind of sensitivity that enables her to get under the skin of the criminal she's tracking and gives her a heightened emotional awareness of the criminal's most likely next move, and of the motives that triggered the criminal action. Her intention, of course, is to ensure that miscreants are brought to justice, but also, and above all, to better understand - understand, not justify - the deep-seated pulsions that drive criminals to act they way they do. If there were such a category, one could define her as an "investigator of the soul". In any case, exploring his characters' most intimate feelings is an art in which Julia's creator, Giancarlo Berardi, is extremely proficient. After abandoning the nineteenth century and the wild Frontier lands that formed the background to the exploits of his most famous creature - Ken Parker - Berardi has shifted his field of action to a more recent period, namely our own time, which, however, is no less wild; furthermore, he favors a genre, the noir, which is particularly disturbing, tension-laden, full of unexpected developments.
Created by Luca Enoch, Gea is an orphaned fourteen-year-old girl with an obscure past. She lives along in a great big loft in an imaginary metropolis, together with her inseparable cat Cagliostro. Gea plays the bass guitar in a rock band, she dresses according to the "dark" look, she has a huge library of books full of ancient texts, she rides a moped, she does kendo for sports (an ancient Japanese martial art), and collects CDs and old vinyl records. But behind her appearance as a fragile and saucy young girl, Gea hides a great secret: she is a Bulwark, a sort of "sentinel", and her mission is to defend the Earth against the intrusion of beings from other dimensions, beings which are sometimes scared and disoriented, sometimes bellicose and evil, and thus seriously determined to invade our planet. These are the beings Gea has to battle against, on the pages of her six-monthly series, deploying all her grit and determination and, above all, her magic sword, that emanates rays of pure energy!
JONATHAN STEELE (1999)
Jonathan Steele is a private investigator who operates in a world that mysterious events have profoundly and abruptly changed: in 2020 (the year in which his adventures take place) modern technology on Earth has had to learn to coexist with magic. Twenty-four years old, an Australian by birth, Jonathan Steele - subject and scripts by Federico Memola - works on behalf of an very special investigative agency, which has its headquarters in Paris although it operates world-wide. In addition to chasing down normal criminals, Jonathan often finds himself having to deal with creatures of the fantastic (inspired both by traditional fantasy and ancient mythology), wizards, witch-doctors, and a kaleidoscope of really extraordinary situations. While frequently moving on the margins of the law, Jonathan Steele is a positive hero, a pragmatic very independent-minded individual fully accustomed to facing all sorts of unexpected predicaments. Two fascinating girls assist him in his investigations. They are quite different from each other, both in their appearance and their character: one is the sophisticated Jasmine Rashad (of Pakistani nationality, but born and brought up in Germany), a top model who has a degree in archaeology and is an expert in esoteric arts, while the other is the high-spirited Myriam Leclair, a Canadian photo-reported endowed with magic powers.