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Grandville vol 3: Bete Noire

Grandville vol 3: Bete Noire back

Bryan Talbot


Page 45 Review by Jonathan

“Please take your seats and we’ll get down to business.
“Business is what it’s all about, my friends, when all’s said and done. Business. It’s why we’re here.
“Business... industry... our reason to be, our way of life... our history and our destiny... is under threat and it is our patriotic duty to defend it... against the people. For the good of the people.”

Slimy Baron Krapaud (well, he is a toad), is the richest person in all the Empire, and he means to keep it that way. He and his fellow industrial plutocrats are highly perturbed by the recent overthrow of Napoleon XII and the establishment of the Revolutionary Council who intend to hold imminent elections that will give true power to the people – an obscene dictatorship of the people, as Krapaud puts it – so he intends to bring a very abrupt halt to the march of democracy indeed.

Meanwhile, there’s been a murder in Grandville of a celebrated artist. It’s your classic locked room case, where a life has been taken yet no one has apparently entered or left the crime scene, and unsurprisingly it’s got the police baffled. So much so that Chief Inspector Rocher of the Paris Prefecture feels the need to call in some outside expertise, in the form of Detective Inspector LeBrock and his faithful sidekick, Detective Sergeant Roderick Ratzi, of Scotland Yard. Given LeBrock left a little piece of his heart behind the time he visited Grandville, he’s keen to see if can he offer a helping paw... and perhaps pay a visit to a certain lady of the night to renew acquaintances whilst he’s there.

Part three of Bryan’s increasingly epic steampunk vision picks right up where volumes one and two left off, with socio-political intrigue and unrest, dastardly crime, slow burning romance, and more than a few fur-filled flying fists too! Yes, first and foremost this is a murder mystery as LeBrock once more brings his Holmesian deductive abilities to bear, but it’s also far more than that, as Bryan takes the time to make more than a few choice points about the current fiscal and political inequities in our own society, whilst also entertaining us once more with those humorously sly references to various pop culture anthropomorphic icons, which will inevitably tickle those of us of a certain age.

As ever there is so much to admire in the art too as Bryan pulls off that hardest of tricks, which only true masters of the anthropomorphic tradition such as himself and Juanjo BLACKSAD Guarnido can manage with aplomb, by making use of distinctive animal features for maximum dramatic effect, yet doing so in such an incongruous manner that you do completely forget at times it’s an anthropomorphic work, until of course their very animal nature is part of a rib-tickling punchline.

But whilst the anthropomorphic characters do indeed rightly form our central cast, there is as before one additional brightly shining star, the city of Paris itself, as Bryan quite literally goes to town with the impressive and imposing architecture of the jewel of the Empire. It’s the attention to detail that Bryan puts into all his works that makes them masterpieces, though: check out the parquet floor in the section set in the Louvre and you’ll instantly see what I mean. I look forward already to people asking, as we have had ever since the first volume was released, when the next volume of GRANDVILLE will be released! Err... and I’m one of them!