Excuse the lazy title, but it’s quite spot-on: Bandette is a lighthearted adventure tale, featuring a teenage thief equal parts Batgirl and Indiana Jones. Vol.2 sees her contending with the criminal org known as FINIS, and a stranglesome assassin known as Il Tredici.
Vol. 2? What was vol. 1 about? What’s a ‘Bandette’? What am I missing out on, why are they speaking English in France, wh-
Easy there, fella, one step at a time. First of all, Bandette is a person, a girl who wears a domino, cape, and a snazzy red-and-black aesthetic that she rocks as she robs rich, powerful, and detestable individuals of their priceless valuables.
Secondly, Vol. 1 introduced us to Bandette, her ragtag crew of street urchin helpers, and her elder rival thief Monsieur, who warns her of a concerted plot to decommission her permanently.
Third, they’re speaking English in France because Bandette takes place in France, and because creators Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover envisioned a certain idealized France, one with charming street boutiques and ornate rooftops ready for midnight-traipsing, and so that’s where they’ve chosen to take us, regardless of the linguistic inconsistencies. So grow up.
Fair enough, so it’s a hardboiled crime noir about stolen government secrets and bloodied double-breasted jackets?
Not at all! It’s a fantasy, light as pastry-filling and just as delightful. It’s the kind of world where Bandette will likely never be pierced by the bullet of a henchman, where no one will ever noticed a costumed girl sneak into a secret compartment hidden in a pie cart on the street, and there’s nary a tortured past in sight. Bandette steals for the thrill of folly and for the needy (basically in that order), and she doesn’t deal in boring ol’ nuclear schematics or presidential scandals, but in the stuff of history-porn lore–lost Shakespearian scripts, fossils of prehistoric man, that sort of dreamy, fantastic thing.
I’m not really much in for that lighter, Young Adult sorta fare…
Then, too bad for you! The Hobbit was originally written as a children’s book, you know, and we all know how petty and trivial that whole franchise turned out to be, right?
It’s true that Bandette feels aimed to please a younger audience, but it’s not really a marketing call; see, the whole theme of the comic is folly, doing silly things for the thrill of it, seizing upon your passions, that sorta thing, and the book sells that concept pretty well to child and adult alike. Honestly, with the series very first issue I felt the writing might be a bit too facetious, too much of one-liners and witticisms, but it grows on you quite quickly.
Fine, I’ll humor you–what is there to love about the comic?
Bandette’s a great character, a woman-child at heart who’s entranced equally with sweets and first-edition copies of Wizard of Oz. She’s self-consciously vain, enamored with the word ‘Presto’ (which becomes something like her catchphrase, worldview, and mantra, all at once), and at her core, just wants to instill a bit of Presto! into our droll everydays.
As I said before, Bandette trafficks in crypto-historical goodies, from rare Roman coins to lost artworks to exquisite liquors, and the small slice of history behind each adds nicely to the overall sense of swashbuckling fun and wonder.
And the artwork is simply gorgeous. Colleen Coover renders her characters with the classics in mind, with actors like Henry Fonda and Audrey Hepburn as reference models for a very iconic look. It’s a throwback not only to the Hanna Barberba cartoons of the 60s, but reaches even further to early 20th-century illustrations of Zorro and Fantomas, all done up nicely in neat, vivid, watercolor-y styles.
If you’re still not convinced, you can try an issue or two for the insane price of a buck apiece over at Comixology. I highly doubt you’ll be disappointed.