Le jour du soleil noir, original cover
Date 1984
Number of issues 20 as of 2012
Page count 44 pages
Publisher Dargaud (French)
Cinebook Ltd (English)
Creative team
Writers Jean Van Hamme
Artists William Vance
Original publication
Language French

XIII (Thirteen) is a Belgian graphic novel series written and drawn by Jean Van Hamme and William Vance, about an amnesiac protagonist who seeks to discover his concealed past. With its plot inspired by Robert Ludlum's book The Bourne Identity,[1] XIII was initially serialised in 1984 in Spirou magazine, and was later published by Dargaud. In 2003, the storyline of the first five volumes was adapted into a video game, also titled XIII, that was released on several platforms. XIII: The Conspiracy, a Canadian TV film based on the series and starring Val Kilmer and Stephen Dorff, was released in 2008. It was followed in 2011 by a 13 episode TV series called XIII: The Series, starring Stuart Townsend and Aisha Tyler.


XIII chronicles the adventures of a man, dubbed "XIII", with memory loss who is searching for his past, and a group of his friends who are trying to unravel the mystery of his identity, which is tangled in conspiracies, secrets, and killers who are out to murder him.

Volumes 1-5

The series begins with a man washing up on a shore in the eastern United States, suffering from amnesia. The only links to his past are a tattoo "XIII" on his collarbone and a photo of himself with a woman identified as Kim Rowland, widow of U.S. Army captain Steve Rowland. Volumes 1 through 5 deal with "XIII" searching for his identity and past. However, XIII finds himself hunted by a contract killer, the Mongoose, working for a mysterious organization known as XX, which aims to mount a coup d'état against the U.S. government. XIII is rescued from XX's assassins by the FBI's Colonel Amos, who confronts XIII with video evidence showing him assassinating the President.

In the second volume, XIII is captured by General Carrington, who confirms XIII is Steve Rowland. Carrington further explains that Rowland was a member of a special ops unit called SPADS (Special Assault and Destroying Sections). Carrington had been commander of SPADS when Rowland was supposedly killed in an helicopter crash two years before. Because XIII's amnesia prevents him from identifying who sponsored the President's assassination, Amos lets him ago. XIII reunites with his father and uncle, but they are both murdered by XIII's young golddigging stepmother, Felicity, who also harms herself and frames XIII. XIII escapes the police with Carrington's help, and meets Kim as she is in hiding. Kim, an XX members known as "XVII", reveals that Steve Rowland is not XIII's true identity. She disappears as XIII is arrested by the police. XIII is found guilty for the murder of the Rowlands and sentenced to maximum security prison.

The third volume finds XIII in a facility for the criminally insane. Amos, pursuing his investigation, realizes that XIII was a body double for the real Steve Rowland. Amos requests Carrington's help to identify people having been trained as top-level special operators and fitting XIII's physique, with the aim of finding out XIII's real identity. Carrington provides the papers of about twenty people; one of them, Ross Tanner, has been missing for two years. Amos decides to leave XIII in prison to have his amnesia treated. The treatment fails, and the Mongoose tries to have XIII killed in the prison. Carrington helps XIII break out of prison.

Volume four begins with Amos finding that Carrington invented the Tanner identity, and suspects him to be part of the conspiracy to kill the President. XIII, under the name of Ross Tanner, has been hidden by Carrington in a SPADS training facility in the fictitious country of San Miguel. Pursuing his check of files, Amos finds Steve Rowland was murdered shortly after the assassination. Assuming now that Rowland was the real assassin, Amos is confused about XIII's real role but exposes Judge Allenby, the head of the investigation, as one of the conspirators. Amos interrogates Allenby, who is killed by Mongoose's assassin; Amos himself is rescued by Kim Rowland. Meanwhile, a female SPADS Sergeant named Betty Barnowsky reveals to XIII she saw Steve Rowland in Eastown after his alleged death, in company with SPADS Colonel Seymour McCall. XIII, Barnowsky and Jones escape an assassination attempt by McCall, but end up lost in the San Miguel jungle.

Kim Rowland takes Amos to intelligence chief Carl Heideger and General Carrington who reveal that after faking his death in the helicopter crash, Steve Rowland contacted his wife Kim and forced her to be a member of the conspiracy. Kim, not sharing the conspiracy's ideology and herself a former secret agent, secretly alerted her former boss Heideger, who was nevertheless unable to prevent the assassination of President Sheridan. Steve Rowland was shot by the Mongoose, but he escaped badly wounded and died shortly after telling Kim what happened. Heideger and Carrington then came up with a plan to make the conspiracy of the XX believe that Steve Rowland had survived to attract the Mongoose's killers in the hope to arrest them and follow their trail to the conspirators. They had a man named Jason Fly turned into Steve Rowland's double, but soon after he disappeared (he was shot and lost his memory, the point where the story begins). Kim Rowland is also revealed to be Carrington's daughter.

At the start of volume five, XIII, Jones, and Barnowsky kidnap the Marquis de Préseau, a rich French land owner in San Miguel, to steal his jet to fly back to the USA. Meanwhile Carrington and Heideger have been arrested by the conspirators, as they prepare to take over the country during a large-scale military exercise. XIII and the women meet with Colonel Amos, who brings them into contact with Walter Sheridan, brother of the assassinated President William Sheridan and himself candidate for presidency.

Sheridan helps XIII infiltrate the military center of operations, and together with President Galbrain they manage to stop the conspiracy at the last moment. The entire conspiracy, with the exception of the illustrious Number I, has been killed or captured. Walter Sheridan is elected President. Kim Rowland remains missing for unknown reasons. At the end of the story arc XIII believes he has found his old identity as Jason Fly, and is prepared to continue his life normally, even if his memories have not yet returned.

Volumes 6-8

In the following volumes XIII takes up the investigation about his past. Volumes six and seven bring XIII to Greenfalls, a snowy town in the Rocky Mountains, where the story revolves around the fate of his father in the McCarthian 1950s. XIII learns that his father, Jonathan Fly, was murdered by the local Ku Klux Klan chapter, after they found out Fly's real identity was Jonathan MacLane, a "red" journalist who had to flee after suffering under McCarthy's witch hunt. The Mongoose still tracks XIII with the blessing of Jonathan MacLane's assassins, but XIII evades the manhunt, gets justice for the murder of his father and manages to arrest the Mongoose, who reveals that he was on Number I's boat when he shot the bullet that made XIII amnesic, but no further information about Number I. The story ends and with a good idea that he has finally found his true identity as Jason MacLane.

In volume eight, XIII is approached by President Sheridan to become a special agent, charged with finding the still at large Number I. The Mongoose escapes from custody. XIII tracks down Kim Rowland, guessing she hides because she knows the identity of the Number I. He discovers that one of the boats close to the spot where he was found amnesic is Walter Sheridan's yacht. Meanwhile, Jones investigates further, and discovers that Kim Rowland had a love affair with Sheridan and had a child with him. After transmitting this information to XIII, they become convinced that Wally Sheridan was, in fact, Number I, and used the conspiracy of the XX to have his brother killed and later had the conspiracy exposed so he himself could become President. Walter Sheridan had the child kidnapped to force Kim to marry Steve Rowland, to betray Jason Fly/MacLane when Heideger's plan threatened to expose him as Number I and have him lured onto his yacht where XIII was shot by the Mongoose. After trying to release Kim Rowland from an island where they believe she is sequestered, XIII and Jones, along with Kim, are caught by the Mongoose who sinks Sheridan's yacht with an explosive. XIII manages to rescue Jones only, and Kim Rowland is lost and presumed dead.

XIII finally faces Walter Sheridan, exposed as Number I but XIII has not any evidence or witness against him. Sheridan will not try to assassinate XIII to avoid a new investigation that might lead to expose him, and XIII and Jones leave the country.

Volumes 9-12

In the following volumes the action takes place in and around Costa Verde, a small fictional nation in Central America where XIII is led to believe he once led a revolution under the identity of "El Cascador", although El Cascador is supposedly dead. XIII gets involved with revolutionary Maria de los Santos, who claims to have been his wife. During the 10th episode, after freeing her from a prison from which she was awaiting execution, she confirms him to be her husband.

During the revolution XIII met up with Irish-American expat Sean Mullway, who claims to be XIII's real father. However, he also confirms XIII's identity as Jason MacLane. The history of XIII's Irish descent is revealed, and XIII learns that his mother was the sister of Giordino, who accidentally murdered her. The Giordino's are revealed as a mafia family. At the end of the volume, XIII is offered amnesty by the American ambassador, who explains that XIII's help is needed: Carrington has apparently gone insane.

In volume twelve XIII, the corrupt American President Sheridan is kidnapped by General Carrington who has learnt that Sheridan ordered his daughter Kim's death. Carrington and Amos have XIII and Jones capture the Mongoose to get further evidence against Sheridan. In a televised "trial" Sheridan is revealed to the American public as the conspirator, with XIII and the Mongoose testifying. In the aftermath of the event the NSA director Giordino accidentally kills Sheridan, after Sheridan has killed the Mongoose.

Volume thirteen, The XIII Mystery: The Investigation, is a special issue, where two journalists retrace the first twelve issues, clarifying and expanding the storyline.

Volumes 14-20

While in exile in Costa Verde, XIII and his father Mullway decide to attempt to find a treasure hidden somewhere in Mexico by their ancestors. Giordino, meanwhile, fabricates evidence revealing XIII as Seamus O'Neill, an IRA operative who trained under Fidel Castro. As O'Neill, XIII is wanted by the USA, but again manages to escape. He also survives an assassination by Irina Svetlanova, who has taken over the Mongoose's operation. After many setbacks the treasure is found, and then lost again. Meanwhile Giordino is finally removed from duty by the new President, who has received evidence from XIII and Mullway revealing Giordino as not only connected to the Mafia, but also as the true killer of Walter Sheridan.

Volumes eighteen and nineteen are the last albums written by Van Hamme. Volume eighteen The Irish Version was drawn by Jean Giraud otherwise known as Mœbius.[2] It figures as a story within the story, and it is referred to as part of the plot along with The XIII Mystery in volume nineteen The Last Round. This story is the prequel to the initial story arc, and finally solves all mysteries surrounding XIII's identity.

Having learned his identity, XIII's memories still have not returned. Seeking medical treatment to uncover them in volume twenty, Mayflower Day, a secret organization schemes to keep XIII from unblocking his memory because of yet another secret in his past.


First released in 1984 as a serial in the popular Spirou magazine, XIII was an instant hit among Spirou readers. The first three episodes were released as a single hardback volume by Dargaud the same year, a trend continued for later issues. By the time of the eighth issue, Thirteen against one, sales of the hardback had reached 140,000 copies, and the publisher belatedly realized that they had a bestseller on their hands. Promotion started, including a special drawing by the French national lottery in 2000 with 1,500,000 tickets and a €13,000 grand prize.


Also published in Spirou was the series Soda about a New York cop. An adventure published in 1999, Dieu seul le sait (Only God Knows), also has the titular character losing his memory, albeit for just a short time. References to the number "13" and other connections to the series appear throughout the story.


Originally in French, XIII was simultaneously translated into Dutch, and translations in other languages such as German, Polish, Tamil, Serbo-Croatian and Italian, quickly followed.


Only the first three volumes were translated to English in the initial 1989 run by Catalan Communications. In 2005, Alias Comics started publishing it as a monthly comics edited for U.S. audiences, but stopped after 5 issues. In 2007, Dabel Brothers Productions in association with Marvel Comics published an uncensored XIII Volume 1 TP collecting the first three albums, and previously released issue #6 free online.[3] English titles below are translations of the original titles, and may change for the actual albums if and when they are released in English.

Most volumes consisted of three individual issues during the initial run, not otherwise named or numbered.

  1. The Day of The Black Sun, 1984 (Le jour du soleil noir) ISBN 0-87416-061-8
  2. Where the Indian Goes, 1985 (Là où va l'Indien...) ISBN 0-87416-081-2
  3. All the Tears of Hell, 1986 (Toutes les Larmes de l'Enfer) ISBN 0-87416-092-8
  4. SPADS, 1987 (SPADS) ISBN 0-87416-130-4
  5. Full Red, 1988 (Rouge Total, "Full Red Alert")
  6. The Jason Fly File, 1989 (Le Dossier Jason Fly)
  7. The Night of August 3rd, 1990 (La Nuit du 3 Août)
  8. Thirteen to One, 1991 (Treize Contre Un)
  9. For Maria, 1992 (Pour Maria)
  10. El Cascador, 1994 (El Cascador)
  11. Three Silver Watches, 1995 (Trois Montres d'Argent)
  12. The Trial, 1997 (Le Jugement)
  13. The XIII Mystery: The Investigation, 1999 (L'Enquête)
  14. Danger to the State, 2000 (Secret Défense, "Top Secret")
  15. Unleash the Hounds!, 2002 (Lâchez les Chiens !)
  16. Operation Montechristo, 2004 (Opération Montechristo)
  17. Maximilian's Gold, 2005 (L'or de Maximilien)
  18. The Irish Version, November 2007 (La Version Irlandaise), drawn by Jean Giraud, to accompany The Last Round[2]
  19. The Last Round, November 2007 (Le Dernier Round). Last one of this cycle
  20. Mayflower Day, late 2011, by Jigounov and Sente, marks the start of a new story arc.
  21. The Bait, November 2012 (L'appât)

In English

  • In 1989, XIII was first released in English as Code XIII, but after the first three volumes, publication ended in 1990 when the publisher (Catalan/Comcat) went out of business.
  • In 2005, Alias Comics started publishing the title as a series of 32-page monthly comics edited for U.S. audiences. Five issues were released, but #6 was "Cancelled by Publisher" in February 2006.[4] Each issue covered half an album.
  • In 2006, the series went to Dabel Brothers Productions. They released the #6 online for free, and the first 144-page volume was released on February 7, 2007 with Marvel Comics, reprinting the first 3 albums.
  • Cinebook is publishing the 19 books at the rate of one every two months in the UK.[5] Note, on other continents, the volumes are released three months later. The following volumes have been released to date:
  1. The Day of the Black Sun (May 2010) ISBN 978-1-84918-039-9
  2. Where the Indian Walks (July 2010) ISBN 978-1-84918-040-5
  3. All the Tears of Hell (September 2010) ISBN 978-1-84918-051-1
  4. SPADS (November 2010) ISBN 978-1-84918-058-0
  5. Full Red (January 2011) ISBN 978-1-84918-065-8
  6. The Jason Fly Case (March 2011) ISBN 978-1-84918-073-3
  7. The Night of August Third (May 2011) ISBN 978-1-84918-078-8
  8. Thirteen to One (July 2011) ISBN 978-1-84918-089-4
  9. For Maria (Sept 2011) ISBN 978-1-84918-093-1
  10. El Cascador (Nov 2011) ISBN 978-1-84918-102-0
  11. Three Silver Watches (Jan 2012) ISBN 978-1-84918-109-9
  12. The Trial (March 2012) ISBN 978-1-84918-114-3
  13. Top Secret (May 2012) ISBN 978-1-84918-121-1
  14. Release the Hounds (July 2012) ISBN 978-1-84918-128-0
  15. Operation Montecristo (Sept 2012) ISBN 978-1-84918-134-1
  16. Maximilian's Gold (November 2012)
  17. The Irish Version (January 2013)
  18. The last Round (March 2013)

Other languages


'XIII' has been published in Tamil under the title 'Ratha Padalam' by Lion Comics in the state of Tamil Nadu, India.

  • In Oct 2010, A complete set of volumes 1-19 was released by Lion Comics.
  • In Oct 2013, Volumes 20 & 21 combinedly released by Lion Comics.


  • In 1988, XIII began publication in Portugal by Meribérica-Líber. The first three volumes were published over a two-year period, and the series returned in 1997 with the fourth album, after a seven-year hiatus. Meribérica published the first nine albums until it went out of business in 2004.
  • In 1990, Portuguese newspaper Público (Portugal) started publishing XIII in its Sunday supplement 'Publico Junior'. Eventually, the first 3 books were published in this manner, before 'Publico Junior' was discontinued in 1992.
  • In 2006, XIII is being published in Brazil by Panini Comics.[6] Panini is publishing XIII as a monthly series, with two episodes in each issue. Previously available in Brazil were the Portuguese editions published by Meribérica-Liber.

The first issue The Day of The Black Sun was named O Dia do Sol Negro, the literal translation. The first issue also included a second episode, named Onde Vai o Índio... (Where the Indian Walks), published in May 2006. All Brazilian issues are composed of two albums, except for issue 7, which included the original thirteenth volume, a double-sized album, alone.


  • During the 1980s first 3 volumes were published in monthly Super magazine from publisher Dečje Novine.
  • In 1990 first 6 volumes were published in monthly Gigant magazine from publisher Dečje Novine. Throughout the decade Politikin Zabavnik magazine also reprinted most of the volumes, as part of its comic segment. In 2012, Politikin Zabavnik started repriniting the volumes once again.
  • From 2002 to 2009, the first 19 volumes were published through Marketprint.


  • In 1990s volume 7 by Bookglobe
  • In 2008 Integral #1 (episodes 1-3) by Bookglobe
  • In 2009 Integral #2 (episodes 4-6) by Bookglobe
  • In 2012 Integral #3 (episodes 7-9) by Bookglobe
  • In 2012 Integral #4 (episodes 10-12) by Bookglobe


Jean Van Hamme has declared that he will not continue to write the series, but William Vance is interested in continuing it with another writer. Yves Sente, who has already taken over writing Thorgal from Van Hamme, is interested to continue the series. He was contacted by William Vance and said he'd propose a story to Van Hamme, but no agreement has been reached yet.[7] Ever since October 2008, Sente has authored volume 20 of the comic series (Mayflower Day), late 2011, alongside Youri Jigounov, as stated above.


A separate comic series called XIII Mystery, which follows and elaborates on some of the supporting characters from the XIII comic series, began by publisher Dargaud on October 3, 2008 with the release of the first issue, The Mongoose.[8] On October 30, 2009 the second issue, Irina, was released.[9] Little Jones was released on November 10, 2010, and Colonel Amos was released in late 2011. Steve Rowland has been published in October 2012.

Video game adaptations

Main article: XIII (video game)

XIII was adapted as a 2003 video game released for the PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox, the PC, and the Apple Macintosh. The plot of the game is an adaption of the first five volumes of the comic series. A sequel, titled XIII ²: Covert Identity, was released as a side-scrolling platform game for mobile phones by Gameloft in October 2007.[10]

In November 2011, Anuman Interactive released an adventure game based on the series, titled XIII: Lost Identity.

TV series

Main article: XIII (miniseries)

A XIII 2-part TV mini-series, called XIII: The Conspiracy and starring Val Kilmer and Stephen Dorff was shown on French premium television channel Canal+ in October 2008. It was shown in other territories in 2009 and is available on DVD.

Main article: XIII: The Series

In 2011, a 13 episode TV series called XIII: The Series aired in Canada and France. It starred Stuart Townsend and Aisha Tyler.[11]



External links

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