Sunday, 17 May 2015
Bad Break by Philippe Riche Review
Bad Break starts out interestingly as a mysterious man with bandages on his face searches for his wrecked car in a scrapyard run by a blind man, who’s busy drowning kittens. In the car is his locked briefcase and heavily tattooed men with guns are after him. What’s in the briefcase and why is he being hunted for it? Sounds promising, no?
Disappointingly, things go downhill right after the first act is over. Philippe Riche, who writes and draws Bad Break, turns out to be a really lousy storyteller because this isn’t the most complicated story, he just makes it really hard to follow.
Besides the bandaged man - who turns out to be an antiques dealer - a junkyard worker and a porn star join him in a quest to uncover SOMETHING that was valuable between a tattooist and his prostitute girlfriend. Two storylines: the present and the past. Should be easy enough to jump from one to the next. And yet I was never really clear what the purpose of all of this nonsense was.
A group of guys were tattooed, something to do with a map, skulls, a statue - obviously Riche is going for mystery but he’s also revealing all by the end. And it’s not a good sign that when he lays all his cards on the table, you’re still left baffled as to what he was driving at.
It doesn’t help that it’s not really convincing that the characters would simply drop everything in their lives to join the antiques dealer on his caper. The junkyard worker just ups and leaves, as does the porn star, when they’ve known this antiques dealer for a handful of minutes!
I think Riche was going for a grown-up version of a Tintin adventure but it’s neither as interesting nor as coherent as anything Herge created. Parts of it were ok though, like the tattooist and the prostitute’s relationship, seeing how it started right until the end. It’s just that the various parts never synced up into a pleasing whole.
Art-wise, it’s black and white and the digital art felt very rushed and sketchy - though maybe it’s the book’s production that gives it that artificial look and maybe it wasn’t digitally produced. He does do facial expressions very well with minimal lines in every panel which is impressive.
Usually French comics, or any nationality really, translated into English tend to be great because the publisher thinks it’ll grab readers in a new market; sadly, this is not one of these. Bad Break is a tedious mess of a mystery adventure that needed to be a lot more focused to be even a halfway decent read.