Reviewed by Stephen Aryan
This is the second graphic novel by British writer and artist Bryan Talbot about Inspector LeBrock of Scotland Yard. The story is set in a steampunk, anthropomorphic world with an alternate history and while the majority of the population are animal based, there is the occasional human or dough-face, who are essentially second class citizens. Without giving away too many spoilers for the first story, this second adventure starts with LeBrock in a very bad place and then one of his worst nightmares comes true. A renowned murderer who he hunted down and arrested has somehow managed to escape on the day he was due to be executed for his crimes. This sends LeBrock into a rage which gets him into trouble with his superiors and as a result he ends up suspended. Of course this tiny detail isn’t going to stop the relentless LeBrock from pursuing the killer to France where he has started murdering prostitutes, seemingly at random.
What unfolds is a gritty crime story and a mystery with lots of plot twists that keeps you guessing right up to the end. LeBrock is determined to find the killer, put a stop to his latest murder spree and also uncover how he escaped. There is also the larger mystery of why he fled to France and what he is really after, as there seems to be a method to his madness for once. LeBrock uses his detective skills and tries to walk on the right side of the law at all times to get to the bottom of it, but being suspended does have its advantages. Unfortunately it also means he has to dodge the local authorities and a confrontation is inevitable.
Don’t let the bright colours or gorgeous artwork distract you, this is not a comic for children by any stretch of the imagination. The pages are not dark and moody like Sin City, but it is still full of murder, grisly characters (both to look at and their personalities) as well as some mind boggling sex scenes and unusual animal pairings. Personally I’m not a fan of steampunk as I normally feel that the elements don’t gel together and I find them jarring, but in this situation it works very well. Perhaps it’s because of the alternate history which is further explored in this second volume.
We also find out a bit more about LeBrock as a young freedom fighter and about the war, as well as some of his childhood heroes. The world, its characters, and its history is fully realised, and for those who are paying attention there are a number of Easter eggs. In the first volume there was a smoking camel, Rupert the Bear and many others and in this volume I spotted a few, but I am certain there are more I missed. I previously attended a talk by Bryan Talbot at the 2009 Birmingham International Comics Show (BICS) where he talked about the history of anthropomorphic characters which has added real depth and another level of understanding to my reading of both volumes of Grandville. If you are in the UK and see him doing a signing session and Grandville talk in your area, it is definitely worth attending.
Overall this was an excellent encore and I was very pleased to hear that a third volume is in the works. Bryan Talbot is a renowned British comics creator who has had his work translated into many languages and Grandville is available in a wide selection of countries around the world. Grandville: Mon Amour is a really good crime and adventure comic with an interesting main character and I can’t wait to read the third volume whenever it comes out.