Mississipi River was was originally serialised in Metal Hurlant in 1979.
During that year, Moebius and Jean-Michel Charlier found themselves embroiled in an argument over Blueberry (the western strip which preceded Mississippi River), with French publisher Dargaud.
As a result, the two creators decided to halt their work on Blueberry and create a new series. This was how Mississippi River was born.
We open with a fight on a boat cruising along the Mississippi river, and are formally introduced to our anti-hero; former Union soldier Jim Cutlass. Trouble seems to follow him wherever he goes, especially amongst the Southerners who view him with suspicion.
He acquaints himself with a slave owner called Don Clay (who has a passing resemblance to Charles Bronson), but things start going down south (literally!).
We also meet other characters, key one being Carolyn whom Jim has a romantic affiliation with. She has a clear disdain for the Union soldiers (and with good reason), which of course makes things awkward for Jim due to his Unionist roots.
More trouble soon follows suit after he inherits part of a Louisiana plantation.
Cutlass as a character, does not cover himself in glory throughout the story. Compared to Blueberry, he is much less heroic, although he makes up for it with his cunning resourcefulness. His plans backfire a lot of the time, and it seems only blind luck is keeping him alive.
His flaws are not only limited to himself, but other characters too; betrayal and self interest is the order of the day.
Moebius’ representation of a sun-drenched Louisiana is very striking and colourful, as are the deep blue colours of night. It is a direct contrast to the grim nature of the story. In terms of the writing, it is not as strong as Blueberry, but does have its moments.
After Charlier’s untimely death in 1989, Moebius revived the character for six 90s sequels with himself as writer and Christian Rossi as artist
Mississipi River may not be one of Moebius’ most memorable works, nonetheless, it is a must read for all enthusiasts of the French maestro.