En remontant le Mississippi

En remontant le Mississippi is a Lucky Luke comic written by Goscinny and Morris. It is the sixteenth title in the Lucky Luke Series. The comic was printed by Dupuis in 1961. Both Goscinny and Morris were avid readers of frontier tales and particularly Mark Twain books. This album is culturally significant as it is connected with Mark Twain's experience as a Mississippi steamboat pilot before the American Civil War. The plot and many details like safety-last style of sailing, card sharks aboard, tampering with safety valves, unloading passengers to speed up the ship...etc. are borrowed from the famous (or infamous) 1870 race between paddle steamers Robert E Lee under he command of Capt Cannon and Natchez IV, under Capt Leathers

Lucky Luke #16
En remontant le Mississippi--Travelling up the Mississippi
Cover of the French edition
Date1961
SeriesLucky Luke
PublisherDupuis
Creative team
WritersGoscinny
Morris
ArtistsMorris
Original publication
Date of publication1961
LanguageFrench
Chronology
Preceded byL'Évasion des Dalton, 1960
Followed bySur la piste des Dalton, 1962

Plot

Competition is fierce among steamboats captains plying the Mississippi river . Sleazy and devious Capt Lowriver, master of paddle steamer Abestos . d . plover is trying to establish a monopoly on the New Orleans Minneapolis line and wants his arch rival Capt Barrows, master of the Daisy Belle out of the way. Both captains finally devise a race from New Orleans Minneapolis to settle the matter: Whoever wins the race remains sole operator of steamboats on the Mississippi. Confident in his ship and crew capabilities but fearing foul play from his opponent part Capt Barrows hires lucky Luke as a supervisor and bodyguard.

And foul play there is: Lowriver hires a professional gambler who almost manage to win Barrows ship in a rigged-up poker game, an attempt foiled at the last minute by the wiser Lucky Luke .

The voyage goes on, with the floods, droughts and snag tree-trunks constantly impairing both ship's progress up Mississippi. Lucky Luke is a helpful hand on board as a pilot, constantly gauging the river depth and avoiding the Daisy Belle being stranded after the ship has lost the main river bed during a flood. His task aboard is loosely modelled on Mark Twain's (Samuel Clemens) job on Mississippi steamboats, which inspired his famous pen-name.

Lowriver keeps trying to cheat his opponent out of the race, he hires a gunman (who however skilled is no match for Lucky Luke)and later a big bald - head bully brute called Ironhead Wilson whose bullet-proof cranium is a deadly weapon. Ironhead Wilson methodically batters the ships boiler to pieces with his head and allows Lowriver's ship (abord which passengers have been disembarked at gunpoint to lighten the craft) take the lead during the final stage to Minneapolis.

Unable to get rid of him with bullets, Lucky Luke punches his opponent ribcage with his fists, which Ironhead Wilson feels like a mere tickling and bursts in an incontrollable laughter that makes him jump overboard, only to be attacked by Alligators.

While Wilson mashes the alligators to a pitiful condition and escapes unscathed, Barrows and his crew patch up the boiler and start gaining fast on the rival ship as the finish line in Minneapolis is in sight. Aboard both ships, engineers and stokers try to raise more steam pressure and pelt more wood into the boilers, only to have the safety valves opening.

Infuriated and half crazy Lowriver then sits atop the valve counterweight, allowing his ship to regain the lead, while Barrows, concerned with his passengers and crew safety, admits his defeat. In a final twist the boiler of Lowriver's ship explodes in a spectacular fashion, destroying everything and sending Lowriver and his crew in the water where hungry and smiling alligators are awaiting them.

A rather dejected and alligator - bitten Lowriver is fished out by Lucky Luke and admits his defeat, but magnanimous Barrows tells him that "There is plenty of space for everybody on this old river" and then proceeds to the Minneapolis greeting ceremony, while lucky Luke slips it and makes his trademark exit in the sunset, singing his favorite song.

References

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