by Paul Tobin & Colleen Coover
There have been a decent number of suspenseful moments so far in Bandette, but last issue featured a closing sequence that took the series to a different level. In an attempt to dispatch Bandette once and for all, Absinthe has unleashed a murderer by the name of Il Tredici, or 13, to take care of her. As the last issue came to a close, Bandette sent her Urchins running when she overheard the hit man closing in on them. The reach of F.I.N.I.S. is getting closer to Bandette and her crew, but that’s not stopping her mission to take everything she can from Absinthe.
This seventh issue of the series stands out as one of the strongest so far. While Bandette and her follies still remain as charming and whimsical as ever, there is a growing intensity to the threats of the series that create an even more engaging reading experience. Early on in the issue, Absinthe discovers that one of his items is missing from a safe. What follows is a chase about the building in search of the thief. Coover’s art makes this chase incredibly captivating. At times, the dialogue is taken from a separate setting, but Coover’s cartooning is done so well that readers can follow along with the cat-and-mouse scene. It is incredibly cinematic and some choices in panel layouts, what is shown and how it is depicted, all lend to a fantastic storyline in this chapter.
In the issue, as Monsieur is chased about this giant building by the men of F.I.N.I.S., the threat of Il Tredici continues on. Despite not seeing him for much of the issue, his presence seems to exist as if he is always just off panel. Paul Tobin’s writing continues to impress. Not only does the chapter captivate through its exciting chases, but through this tension brought about by Il Tredici. Despite the increase in intensity, Tobin and Coover still manage to make the experience and spirit of Bandette a ton of fun. As characters come to blows, there is no question that the tone of the series has not been forgotten.
It may not be the main focus, but the Easter-egg aspect to the list of items that are being stolen by Bandette and Monsieur make for a very cool bonus. Tobin and Coover have not simply just made up random items for these thieves to hijack. Instead, these artifacts exist and have very curious histories. Readers do not need to be bogged down with needing to know what these items are. Tobin makes sure to craft the scenes so that the importance of the item can be felt without knowing anymore. However, for those inclined, there is a great infusion of history through this subtle channel. For the curious reader, the series extends off the page and there is a ton of enjoyment to tracking down the items featured in each issue and learning about them.
On the whole, Bandette has so much to offer. From the surface, the book is incredibly fun. Coover’s art looks like it has gotten better with each issue, despite it always looking flawless. The interactions of the characters and the personalities of the major players all create some great engagement. Added in this arc is the suspense and threat of a much more qualified foe in Il Tredici. The series has found a way to continue to be fresh and exciting while never losing sight of how it started.