Bob Morane and Assorted French Villains

by Jean-Marc  Lofficier

Bob Morane

"One of the longest and most popular juvenile adventure series in the world, Bob Morane was also the subject of one television series and an ongoing series of graphic novels.  An animated series is due to be released in 1999.  The basic concept was pure adventure: Bob Morane, a retired air force major, and his friend, a tough, burly scotsman, Bill Ballantine, fought evil throughout the world, sometimes in space and even through time itself.

"Bob Morane’s colorful rogues’ gallery included: (a) the diabolical Monsieur Ming, a.k.a. the “Yellow Shadow”, a fiendish Oriental mastermind bent on universal domination, who appeared in Nos. 33, 35, 37, 38, 43, 50, 57, 63, 72, 75, 76, 87, 122, 135, 137, 144, 147, 148, 157, plus the Cycle du Temps episodes listed below; (b) SMOG, an international spy cartel led by the beautiful but deadly Miss Ylang-Ylang and Roman Orgonetz, her ruthless henchman, a professional assassin with teeth of gold (Nos. 41, 45, 53, 71, 78, 83, 88, 96, 100, 107, 123, 155); (c) the mad Dr. Xhatan, master of light, who is served by an artificially-created breed of green-skinned men (Nos. 79, 80, 106); (d) the humanoid Toad-men, descendents of an alien race stranded on our world long ago, secret masters of robotics (Nos. 86, 89, 129); and (e) the Tiger, an ordinary tramp whose intelligence was boosted with the memories of several brilliant scientists -- and that of a deadly man-eating tiger (Nos. 124, 125, 145, 148, 149).

"One sub-set of Bob Morane adventures was Le Cycle du Temps [The Time Saga], which pitted Bob Morane and the Time Patrol (previously encountered in Nos. 20 and 69 of the series) against the Yellow Shadow who was always trying to change the course of history to conquer the world (Nos. 90, 91, 92, 93, 99, 105, 115, 126, 139, 143, 149).  Another notable sub-set series was Le Cycle d’Ananké [The Ananke Saga], in which Bob Morane and Bill Ballantine tried to escape from a nightmarish, other-dimensional world (Nos. 127, 130, 134, 141, 146)."
Copyright © 1999 Jean-Marc & Randy Lofficier. All rights reserved.

The excerpt above is from French Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror & Pulp Fiction by Jean-Marc & Randy Lofficier. It has been included here with Jean-Marc's permission. 


BOB MORANE is copyright  by his creator, HENRI VERNES (no relation to Jules Verne; it's a nom-de-plume).


(A ** indicates that there is also a graphic novel)

La Couronne de Golconde [The Crown Of Golconde] (BM #33, Marabout Junior 142, 1959) (**: gn Dargaud, 1965; art by Gerald Forton)

L'Ombre Jaune [The Yellow Shadow] (BM #35, MarJ 150, 1959) (**: gn as Les Otages de l'Ombre Jaune [The Hostages of the Yellow Shadow], Dargaud/Lombard, 1988; art by Francisco Coria)

La Revanche de l'Ombre Jaune [The Revenge Of The Yellow Shadow] (BM #37, MarJ 158, 1959)

Le Châtiment de l'Ombre Jaune [The Punishment Of The Yellow Shadow] (BM #38, MarJ 162, 1960)

Le Retour de l'Ombre Jaune [The Return Of The Yellow Shadow] (BM #43, MarJ 182, 1960)

Les Sosies de l'Ombre Jaune [The Duplicates Of The Yellow Shadow] (BM #50, MarJ 210, 1961)

Les Yeux de l'Ombre Jaune [The Eyes Of The Yellow Shadow] (BM #57, MarJ 238, 1962)

L'Héritage de l'Ombre Jaune [The Inheritance Of The Yellow Shadow] (BM #63, MarJ 262, 1963)

Les Guerriers de l'Ombre Jaune [The Warriors Of The Yellow Shadow] (BM #72, MarJ 298, 1965) (**: gn Dargaud/Lombard 1982; art by Coria)

La Cité de l'Ombre Jaune [The City Of The Yellow Shadow] (BM #75, MarJ 314, 1965)

Les Jardins de l'Ombre Jaune [The Gardens Of The Yellow Shadow] (BM #76, MarJ 315, 1965)

Les Papillons de l'Ombre Jaune [The Butterflies Of The Yellow Shadow] (BM #87, Marabout Pocket 39, 1968)

La Forteresse de l'Ombre Jaune [The Fortress Of The Yellow Shadow] (BM #90/Cycle du Temps #1, MarP 54, 1968)

Le Satellite de l'Ombre Jaune [The Satellite Of The Yellow Shadow] (BM #91/CT #2, MarP 57, 1968)

Les Captifs de l'Ombre Jaune [The Captives Of The Yellow Shadow] (BM #92/CT 33, MarP 60, 1968)

Les Sortilèges de l'Ombre Jaune [The Spells Of The Yellow Shadow] (BM #93/CT #4, MarP 66, 1969) (**: gn Dargaud/Lombard, 1976; art by William Vance)

Les Bulles de l'Ombre Jaune [The Bubbles Of The Yellow Shadow] (BM #99/CT #5, MarP 83, 1970) (**: gn Dargaud/Lombard, 1978; art by Vance)

Une Rose pour l'Ombre Jaune [A Rose for The Yellow Shadow] (BM #105/CT #6, MarP 93, 1970) (** gn Dargaud/Lombard, 1984; art by Coria)

La Prison de l'Ombre Jaune [The Prison Of The Yellow Shadow] (BM #115/CT #7, MarP 112, 1973)

Les Poupées de l'Ombre Jaune [The Dolls Of The Yellow Shadow] (BM #122, MarP 122, 1974) (**: gn Dargaud, 1970; art by Vance)

Les Fourmis de l'Ombre Jaune [The Ants Of The Yellow Shadow] (BM #126/CT #8, MarP 129, 1974) (**: gn Dargaud/Lombard, 1987; art by Coria)

Le Poison de l'Ombre Jaune [The Poison Of The Yellow Shadow] (BM #135, MarP 144, 1976)

Les Jeux de l'Ombre Jaune [The Games Of The Yellow Shadow] (BM #137, MarP 146, 1976)

L'Ombre Jaune Fait Trembler la Terre [The Yellow Shadow Makes The Earth Quake] (BM #139/CT #9, MarP 148, 1976)

La Prisonnière de l'Ombre Jaune [The Prisoner Of The Yellow Shadow] (BM #143/CT #9, Masque Bob Morane 4, 1978) (**: gn Dargaud, 1972; art by Vance)

La Griffe de l'Ombre Jaune [The Claw Of The Yellow Shadow] (BM #144, M BM 6, 1978)

Le Trésor de l'Ombre Jaune [The Treasure Of The Yellow Shadow] (BM #147, M BM 15, 1979)

L'Ombre Jaune et l'Héritage du Tigre [The Yellow Shadow And The Tiger's Inheritance] (BM #148, M BM 20, 1979)

Le Soleil de l'Ombre Jaune [The Sun Of The Yellow Shadow] (BM #149/CT #10, M BM 23, 1979)

L'Ombre Jaune s'en va t'en Guerre [The Yellow Shadow Goes To War] (BM #157, Fleuve Noir Bob Morane 9, 1988)

L'Exterminateur [The Exterminator] (BM #158, FN BM 13, 1989) Le Jade de Séoul [The Jade From Seoul] (BM #161, FN BM 26, 1990) (**: gn Dargaud/Lombard 1992; art by Coria)

La Jeunesse de l'Ombre Jaune [The Youth Of The Yellow Shadow] (--, novella serialized in L'Ombre Jaune Omnibus #1,#2 & #3, Lefrancq, 1993-94)

Les Mille et Une Vies de l'Ombre Jaune [The Thousand And One Lives Of The Yellow Shadow] (BM #172, Lefrancq Bob Morane 26, 1995)


Contemporaries and/or Predecessors

Some contemporaries and/or predecessors of the literary archetypes (Mad Doctor/Fiendish Chinese) that inspired Fu Manchu:

One of the first "mad doctors" in popular fiction was "Dr. Caresco", introduced in "Le Mal Nécessaire" [The Necessary Evil] (1899), written by André Couvreur, himself a medical doctor.  I think Caresco was one of the first mad surgeons in popular literature.  (Like Fu Manchu, he returned in several more adventures.)

A worthy (and more famous) literary successor of Caresco was "Dr. Cornelius Kramm", another mad surgeon and the star of "Le Mystérieux Dr. Cornélius" [The Mysterious Dr. Cornelius], a sprawling saga serialized in eighteen volumes during 1912 and 1913 and written by another prolific writer of adventure stories, Gustave Le Rouge.

Less prolific than Le Rouge, but more important from a literary standpoint, was Maurice Renard.  Renard was the author of two archetypal "mad doctor" novels: "Le Docteur Lerne - Sous-Dieu"  [Dr. Lerne - Undergod] (1908), and the classic "Les Mains d'Orlac" [The Hands of Orlac] (1920).

Deserving of a footnote in this sub-genre is Guillaume Livet, whose creation was "Miramar, L'Homme aux Yeux de Chat" [Miramar, The Man With Cat Eyes] (1913), another arch-villainous mad scientist out to conquer the world.

By comparison, the first French "yellow peril" novel I could find was "Hurrah!!! Ou La Révolution par les Cosaques" [Hurrah!!! Or The Revolution Of The Cossacks], published in French in London in 1854 by Ernest Coeurderoy.  In it, the decadence of Western Europe was followed by an invasion of Barbarians from the North, the death of civilization as we know it and, finally, the glorious rebirth of a new socialist era led by the Cossacks and, behind them, the Asians.  Hurrah!!! may well have the dubious honor of being the first “yellow peril” novel in genre history, followed closely by the two-volume "La Bataille de Strasbourg" [The Battle Of Strasburg] (1895) by Jules Lermina, in which a scientist uses telluric energy to fight the invading Asian hordes, and by "Jonas" (1900) by Belgian writer Iwan Gilkin and "Aeropolis" (1909) by another Belgian writer Henry Kistemaekers.

Finally, I would mention a series of pulp novels by writer Jean de La Hire featuring a super-hero dubbed The Nyctalope (Léo Sainte-Claire, or Jean de Sainclair, depending on the novel), who could see in the dark and sported an artificial heart.  His adventures comprised seventeen, luridly-entitled volumes, the most famous being Le Mystère des XV [The Mystery Of The XV] (1911), Lucifer (1920), L'Antéchrist [The Antichrist] (1927), Titania (1929), Belzébuth (1930) and Gorillard (1932).  One of the Nyctalope's most fearsome adversaries was an Oriental Mastermind named Leonid Zattan, a worthy imitation (?) of Fu Manchu.

Copyright © 1999 Jean-Marc Lofficier. All rights reserved.

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