Book Reviews, Graphic Novels

Bryan Talbot’s Grandville Mon Amour (2010)

Bryan Talbot’s a gifted-as-hell writer, and, like Gaiman or McCloud, an historian on storytelling and comics. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read from Talbot so far, including this, but this is the first book where the flaws really took away from the experience.

Grandville Mon Amour is the first sequel to 2009’s Grandville: A pulpy steampunk tale that thrives (intentionally, I presume) on cliches to tell gripping, silly yarns. It’s a huge departure from Talbot’s earlier, often abstruse trademark in that it’s all sex and thrilling shots of testosterone set in a steampunk Europe populated by anthropomorphic animals.

I enjoyed the first one well enough, but Mon Amour quickly fell apart for me. For being about a Holmes-ian badger detective hunting down a serial killer and a conspiracy, it’s a little painful to have the mystery’s solution bash the reader over the head a full 80 pages (in a 90-page story!) before our heroes figure out what should have been plainly obvious. It’s never fun for the characters to intentionally slip into sudden, out-of-character ignorance for the sake of maintaining tension.

The original book’s villain returns for his comeuppance in Mon Amour.

Not only that, but Mon Amour tends to beat the cliches its living in a little too strongly: Sarah, the prequel’s love interest, is replaced too quickly by a doppleganger who serves the exact same role, down to her personality and voice; Lebrock, word-for-word, has that ‘I’m-a-rebel-cop-with-nothing-to-lose!’ shouting match culminating in his quitting the force; the solution to the serial killer story is so full of holes (right down to how he escapes custody and his motivations) that the entire plot just falls to pieces, which, again, ruins the intended tension.

It was still a fun, quick read, and Talbot’s still a talented enough author that I recommend checking his work out — just don’t start by looking at this entry. Pick up the Tale of One Bad Rat, or Alice in Sunderland, ideally; though the Grandville adventures before and after this are quite good, too.


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