© Bryan Talbot.

Talbot has done it again, this new Grandville album is as wonderfully entertaining as the first one. No surprise, everything Bryan produces is terrific in my book. This series (there is a third album planned) is set in a steampunk Victorian era where all the characters are anthropomorphized animals, essentially human in most respects except for their heads and general build. There’s a long running tradition of this genre, with another recent entry being BLACKSAD, but Bryan’s opus is uniquely in the mold of Sherlock Holmes with a good dose of modern action films in approach. The story opens on a condemned criminal about to be executed. He’s obviously very dangerous, surrounded by armed guards, muzzled and straight-jacketed, but somehow, with help, he breaks free and escapes, muttering about “LeBrock,” the one who put him away, apparently. The scene shifts to Detective Ratzi, the partner of LeBrock, coming to rouse his mate, and finding him wallowing in a depressed, drunken binge, mourning the death of Sarah, his love in the first album. News that his catch, Mad Dog, has escaped rouses LeBrock, and despite not being given the case officially, he and Ratzi are soon off to Paris on the trail of the escaped killer. Before long their investigation through the brothels and dives of Paris begins to uncover a plot that will shake the very foundations of government in this world.

More than many artists, Bryan Talbot is self-motivated and highly disciplined, turning out one lengthy masterpiece after another. Considering he’s writing, doing the art, lettering and most of the coloring, it’s a long-term project that many would shy away from. Bryan continues to buck the odds by succeeding at such projects, an admirable achievement. His art is excellent, full of dynamic action scenes, but even more impressive character moments like the one above, which draw the reader into the story effortlessly, and make us care about these very human creatures. The plot is delightfully clever as well, with twists and turns aplenty. There’s absolutely nothing in this book to criticize, it’s all good! Highly recommended.

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