Bandette v1 (monkeybrain/Dark Horse)


Rating: 4.5/5 – Tobin and Coover create magic.

Dark Horse Comics recently released a collection of the Eisner Award winning web-comic Bandette. This release contains the first 5 chapters of the story in a beautiful hard cover edition with several pages of bonus material.

Bandette is an all-ages story of a young costumed “artful dodger”. She is the leader of a group of fellow young street people who think that thieving is incredibly fun and a high art form. Bandette and her crew are in a friendly competition with a master thief Monsieur, and help B.D. Belgique, a police inspector, solve crimes. All the while the evil organization FINIS is looking to take out Bandette for reasons unknown.

The design of this book is amazing. As soon as you open the front cover you are transported into the world of Bandette. You can tell that this tome was not simply collected material, but crafted to create an experience for the reader. Dark horse did an excellent job with the design.

It is exceptionally hard to craft an all-ages story without being intellectually insulting to the older readers. Writer Paul Tobin’s previous work on Spider-Girl and the Marvel Adventures line demonstrated his unique ability to create a story that is not only fun, but compelling as well. Bandette is some of Tobin’s best work on display. There were several occasions I laughed out loud while reading. What impressed me most in Bandette was how he created such dynamic characters with an economy of words.

The story is set in Paris, and Colleen Coover’s art brings the city to life. Each panel has just enough detail to make the city feel like a living breathing character, but not so much detail it becomes distracting.

As part of the additional material, included is an essay on Coover’s artistic process. It was exceptionally detailed piece that included every step from rough sketches through coloring the finished product. Coover’s approach to this section was very engaging and kept me reading.

The biggest treat in the book is the “Urchin Stories” section were Paul Tobin crafted two to three page short stories which were illustrate by other artists such as Steve Lieber, Alberto J. Alburquerque, Tina Kim, Jonathan Case, and others. These stories flushed out the world of Bandette and really gave us insight to some of the supporting characters. I especially liked Tina Kim’s work on the story “A Hint from Heloise”.

Overall, this book is a great read. If I had read it before the end of 2013 it would have been my choice for Collected Edition of the Year. It is a great book and one you can share with people who are new to comics. I even ordered copies of this book to give to friends next year at Christmas time. At the list price of $14.99 for a144 page hardcover, this book is worth every penny and a great read for people who like fun action / adventure stories mixed with humor.

Reviewed by: Hank Johnson – Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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