Saturday, September 14, 2013

Bandette Volume 1: Presto!

Written by Paul Tobin
Art by Colleen Coover

            There is nothing quite like a fun adventure comic.  The joy the creators had making it, combined with the mix of action and laughs, just makes a comic experience that’s irresistible.  And Bandette certainly hits all the high notes here, with few low ones in sight.
            Bandette is one of the world’s master thieves, easily able to steal whatever she wants, while also turning around and helping out the police officer Belgique when he needs it.  Along the way, she’s managed to anger the evil organization FINIS. This first volume sets up what will apparently be the plot for the rest of the series: “teaming up” (where teaming up really means a competition with the same goal) with another master thief, Monsieur, and stealing the most prized treasures of Absinthe, the leader of FINIS.
            This does mean the first volume might be a little light on plot, since it’s just set-up.  It doesn’t particularly matter.  It’s far too enjoyable to spend time caring about details like that.  Bandette has a purely fun personality, bantering with an assassin who comes after her, seeing very little danger in what she does, and ultimately doing more stealing for good than for evil.  At the same time, when she recovers a set of Rembrandt mini-paintings, she feels free to keep one for herself rather than give them all to their rightful owner.  And it’s certainly reflected in the world around her.  FINIS’ plans all have names like “Operation Kill Bandette” (which she just laughs off), Bandette’s team of helpers are excited just to help her out, and even Monsieur, who tries to be the serious master thief, seems to have Bandette’s idea for a competition rub off on him.  There is some darkness here, though, notably a silly character apparently being killed.  As this is off-panel, it’s hard to judge too much, and could easily be a bait-and-switch on the audience.  Still, hopefully too much more doesn’t happen in that direction, as it would seem to betray the book’s tone.
            This collection is absolutely loaded with extras, to the point where almost a quarter of the book is extra material.  The prize here is the Urchin Stories, a collection of stories about the various side characters throughout the book, most only two pages long.  Since this is a book mainly focused on Bandette, it’s nice to get a look into all these other interesting characters and their own adventures.  There’s a look at some of the things Bandette has stolen, and explaining the real-world significance behind them.  And finally, a sample of the script, and a detailed look at how the art is done.  It’s all good stuff, and if you’re considering buying these comics digitally, the extras may push it into a physical purchase.

            Bandette is definitely a comic to watch out for.  Its many Eisner nominations, and its win for Best Digital Comic, are no coincidence, and if it can keep everything up, it will probably enter the gallery of must-reads.

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