Thursday, 25 June 2015

Bandette, Volume 2: Stealers, Keepers! Review (Paul Tobin, Colleen Coover)

The master thief Monsieur has a list of priceless objects belonging to the evil organisation, FINIS. He proposes a race to Bandette: whoever manages to nab the most items on the list will be the greatest thief in the world (with the added bonus of striking a blow against FINIS and its leader Absinthe)! But Absinthe has hired a dangerous new henchman to stop Bandette: Il Tredici, aka The Strangler. And so begins – The Great Thieving Race! 

While I didn’t love this second volume as much as the first, Bandette, Volume 2: Stealers, Keepers! is still really good fun. Colleen Coover’s painted art is so completely seductive and Paul Tobin writes Bandette in such an adorable way that the comic won me over again effortlessly. It certainly helped that I read this after being worn out going through several grim/overly serious and definitely not enjoyable superhero comics!

This volume is only four issues long (lots of extras at the end add to the page count) so we don’t spend as much time with Bandette’s extended cast of the Urchins, Pimento (I love Pimento!), Inspector Belgique and Heloise, Daniel and the ballerinas, and as such there are fewer digressions in the plot. It’s a tighter read though in Bandette’s case that’s not necessarily a good thing as the looseness added to the free-flowing charm of the series. 

Also, the story feels a little too familiar to the first book’s. The Strangler is the only new addition to Bandette’s world. Otherwise, it’s still Bandette and Monsieur stealing stuff and going after FINIS, Absinthe looking menacing, Belgique is still comically ineffective, Bandette and Daniel continue to court, and even a certain character makes a surprise return. It’s the second story arc and yet it feels much like the post-script of the first, if not a weaker facsimile. If Tobin/Coover keep Bandette in Paris, it’s going to be a very repetitive series with a lot of the same beats reappearing like a sitcom.

Despite my criticisms, I really enjoyed the book. It’s silly and delightful, imaginative and cute, and Bandette’s antics are too lovable not to bewitch. Coover’s art helps a lot with her expressive characters and unapologetically Francophile-influenced style though Tobin’s breezy dialogue has a lot to recommend it too. It isn’t the overwhelming burst of fresh air that the first book was but Bandette nonetheless continues to be an irresistibly brilliant all-ages comic.

Bandette, Volume 2: Stealers, Keepers!

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