Detective Inspector LeBrock is back on the streets of Grandville, in the second of Bryan Talbot’s anthropomorphic steampunk graphic novels.
The story stands alone from the first, but picks up three months after the end of the previous adventure. A terrorist called Edward ‘Mad Dog’ Mastock dodges the gallows in a brutal escape from the Tower of London, fleeing into the maze of Parisian backstreets. LeBrock picks up his scent – despite being removed from the case by his superiors – as Mad Dog goes on a spree of mysterious prostitute murders.
Part detective story, part political intrigue and part action adventure, the story rolls along at a fair old pace. However, it doesn’t feel as wondrous as the original, perhaps because the first book was so extraordinarily different. This volume doesn’t have the same jaw-dropping freshness that the first had, perhaps simply because we have a greater knowledge of what to expect.
Likewise the art, while still excellent and in an identical style, is less mysterious and strange. It still holds the incredible appeal of a steampunk adventure in the style of Rupert the Bear, but familiarity sheds some of its impact. A couple of characters make a good stab at pulling this back, particularly an overly voluptuous hippopotamus madame and the strange (and downright scary) feral dog antagonist, but at least some of the appeal of the original book was in its uniqueness.
Readers left wanting more won’t be disappointed, but you can’t expect all the magic you felt when you picked up that first book. While this still leaves us with a rollicking read in a surprisingly coherent alternate world – where animals, Victoriana and steam power rule the roost – it’s tinged with the smallest of disappointments that it isn’t quite as magical as the first.