cover image Grandville Bête Noire

Grandville Bête Noire

Bryan Talbot. Dark Horse, $19.99 (104p) ISBN 978-1-59582-890-3

Talbot (Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes) returns to anthropomorphic intrigue in his third tale of steampunk murders and the British badger who solves them. The nefarious toad Krapaud, a rich industrialist threatened by the socialist government of the former French Empire, is scheming with other members of the wealthy elite to take over Paris through the use of violent automatons. Luckily for Paris, Detective Inspector LeBrock of Scotland Yard has been asked to consult on a related murder case. With his uncouth manners and his tendency to solve problems with violence, LeBrock is an unsophisticated but dependable hero who surrounds himself with an equally capable love interest. Subplots involving a human rights campaign seem like a tongue-in-cheek way to keep the anthropomorphic animal heroes from being taken too seriously, and Talbot’s stylized illustrations feature lampoons on familiar children’s book characters (the villain is a post–Hell Mr. Toad). While the element of humor is woven throughout, the characters have deep concerns, particularly LeBrock, whose soul-searching about how he can protect the people he cares about gives a soft side to an otherwise rough-and-tumble sort of hero. (Dec.)