The Book: Set three weeks after the finale of Grandville, Grandville, Mon Amour pits Detective Inspector Archie LeBrock of Scotland Yard against an old adversary, Edward ‘Mad Dog’ Mastock – a psychotic serial killer whose shocking escape from his execution at the Tower of London begins this fast-paced, Hitchcockian steampunk thriller.
With a range of new and fascinating characters and a mix of Holmesian deduction, knowing humour and edge of the seat action, Grandville Mon Amour continues the vein of high-octane adventure begun in the first volume. Can even LeBrock escape the past or do heroes have feet of clay?
Follow the badger!
The Review: Set in the same steampunk universe as Grandville but a standalone adventure in its own right, Grandville Mon Amour is a slightly more cerebral steampunk adventure than its predecessor but a delight all the same, peppered with the kind of action and humour we’ve come to expect of Mr. Talbot.
The tale opens with Mastock’s brutal escape from the Tower of London and with LeBrock in pieces, his home a mess, still racked by remorse for his failure to prevent the death of “the Divine Sarah”. While the aftermath of the events of Grandville are in evidence they’re not vital to the story, and, thanks to some TLC from friend Roderick, we’re soon on the hunt for Mastock in France, who’s taken to murdering prostitutes while searching for a missing and dangerous artifact capable of bringing down a government.
Although working outside the law after resigning his post following a blazing row with his superior officer, it’s not long before LeBrock finds allies in the French police and the criminal underworld to help him track down the escaped murderer and bring to an end his horrific murder spree. This, of course, proves no easy task – Mastock has to be one of the most brutal anthropomorphic villains I’ve ever encountered in a comic. Along the way, we’re treated to some wonderful cameos and supporting characters, such as Madam Riverhorse, the brothel-running hippo, and Billie the Badger, a sex worker who helps Ratzi and LeBrock find Mastock – although not the way she probably wanted to.
There are twists in the tale, of course – a deeper game is afoot, beyond Mastock’s murderous rampage through the city of Grandville. Without giving away the plot, LeBrock finds he’s soon chasing far more dangerous villains who have been hiding their true natures for years, ever since Britain gained independence from France after a brutal uprising.
Grandville Mon Amour is an ingenious and enjoyable conspiracy-laden tale, set in a world Bryan himself describes as “like Jules Verne and Sherlock Holmes directed by Quentin Tarantino – with animals.” The beautifully-realized story comes peppered with visual treats and asides, such as banged up miscreants that include a well known duck and a sex-obsessed aardvark, but these details never distract from the main story – like the grave-digging steampunk robot and Victorian pump room where LeBrock finally confronts Mastock, they’re there to come back to on a second reading and savour all the more.
There’s some fun dialogue too: I especially enjoyed sex worker Billie’s off panel appeal, “looking for a good time, ducks?” only for Lebrock to turn and find her propositioning two well-heeled mallards, who respond, “Not with you, dearie. You’re not even water fowl!”
On top of this, we’re still left with questions. How can an anthropomorphised cat have a ‘real’ cat as a pet? What is the role of humans (or ‘doughfaces’) in this mad, twisted universe? All things you’re left to ponder — and which Bryan tells me are both questions that will be addressed in Book 4: Grandville Noel.
A final word for the production on this book: the print quality is superb, doing full justice to Bryan’s terrific art.
This is a thoroughly enjoyable romp of a book. Find it: buy it.
• The official Grandville and Grandville: Mon Amour homepage
This is the official home on the web for Bryan Talbot’s new graphic novel Grandville and its sequel Grandville: Mon Amour
• Order Grandville Mon Amour from amazon.co.uk
• GOSH Comics London are selling an exclusive bookplate edition of Grandville Mon Amour. More details on their website
• Bryan Talbot will be signing Grandville, Mon Amour at Forbidden Planet, 179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2H 8JR on Thursday 2nd December (6 – 7.00pm).
• Comic Book Resources Interview with Bryan Talbot