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‘Bandette Volume 1: Presto!’ – Advance Hardcover Review (This is Called Justice. Or Larceny. One of the Two)

Bandette is a story about thievery, justice, small dogs, narrow escapes, and also capes, because all of these things matter to Bandette, a flamboyant costumed thief who is in the game as much for the enjoyment of a good heist as the money. With the help of her loyal friends, the Urchins, Bandette steals valuable paintings, stops other, less sporting, criminals as a favor to Inspector Belgique, and stays one step ahead of her enemies.

Like its title character, Bandette is stylish and has fun. The colorful characters inhabit a world where it’s not only acceptable to compliment one another’s style of cape and banter about your opponent’s choice of moves in a fight, but it’s expected. It’s hard not to like all of the characters, costumed and otherwise. Whether it’s the way Bandette flirts and flusters Daniel, her favorite urchin who has a crush on her, or the way she taunts the master thief Monsieur, Bandette is always charming and writer Paul Tobin’s dialogue is perfect. Bandette is set in France and the character’s language is structured in a way that almost reads like a translation. Example: “I’m looking at one at this very moment” using “very moment” instead of “now.” These slight changes in language don’t clutter the dialogue but lend it a more classic feel. On top of that, there’s the fact that Bandette lives her life like she is in a story. She’s prone to saying things like, “I have not prepared for a chase scene!” and “I’ve always wanted to say that!” with the biggest grin on her face as she enjoys the situation she’s in. She even has a catch phrase, “Presto!” for when a plan comes together or she accomplishes something extraordinary.

The art in Bandette is every bit as charming, featuring bright colors with beautiful and subtle shading. Characters, Bandette especially, use large gestures to supplement their dialogue, which altogether gives Bandette this feeling of being larger than life. Action is equally sensationalized with long jumps and flips, and exaggerated reactions by others.

Paul Cornell described Bandette as “carefree” in his foreward, and that is the perfect word for it. The stakes are high but the concern isn’t. Bandette has all sorts of people trying to arrest her or kill her, but it’s no concern of hers even when they’re jabbing a sword at her face. Bandette treats failure as an impossibility. Her attitude is refreshing in a world of dark and serious comics. While I never once feared for Bandette’s safety, I did eagerly flip pages to see what crazy plan Bandette was going to unveil next.

Originally published by Monkeybrain Comics, the trade does include a couple of extras as it assembles the first 5 issues of Bandette, “The Urchin Stories,” and Tobin and Coover dive into the creation process behind the comic. Tobin includes part of the script for the first issue and an overview of the valuables Bandette has stolen thus far and their groundings in our world. Coover takes readers through a step-by-step process for drawing Bandette, which is not something often seen in a trade paperback.

Thank you, Bandette, for being so much fun. I can’t wait for your next adventure.


Five Boxes of Chocoboliks out of Five


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