Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec Vol. 1: Pterror Over Paris and The Eiffel Tower Demon [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] by Jacques Tardi. (Also, by the by, there’s a film adaptation.)
The intrigue of the Blanc-Sec graphic novels starts in media res in this first volume, made up of translated reprints of the first two numbers of the French series. “Pterror over Paris” is pretty bewildering–a complicated plot is only further confused by a passage of three pages or more where it seems like everyone in 1911 Paris is running around in dark glasses and false moustaches! Despite numerous murders and maimings, it seems that little has been resolved by the end of this episode.
The second number “The Eiffel Tower Demon” offers a more conclusive ending, and also provides a brief reprise of the previous one that gave me some needed reassurance that I had understood the story to that point. Throughout these yarns, there are no especially noble or heroic characters, although protagonist Adele is gradually coming into better focus. There are competing criminal elements, dangerously idealistic scientists, and cops who are alternately incompetent or corrupt.
Tardi’s art is great fun, and reminds me somewhat of the virtues of Ted McKeever. The Thompson translation of the text seems quite able.