Archive for Paul Tobin

Kissing Bandette


Bandette, Volume 2: Stealers, Keepers!

It’s Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover’s long-awaited second collection of the daring and spectacularly French adventures of Bandette, the greatest thief in the world!

Bandette is still competing in a thievery contest with the courtly Monsieur, she’s still toying adorably with the heart of the hapless Daniel, and she’s targeting Absinthe and his deadly criminal organization FINIS for elimination. But while she still has her Urchins to assist her, and while Inspector B.D. Belgique of the Paris Police still pursues her (often just to see if she’ll help them take care of a more serious crime), Bandette has a new foe she must deal with: the deadly strangler Il Tredici!

There are old friends, new friends (like Pietro the Pig), unexpected allies, surprise returns, and more wit and derring-do than you can fit in the Louvre. There are also a number of backup stories about Bandette’s allies — and even one of her foes. Most of these are short comics, written by Tobin and illustrated by other cartoonists, but there’s also a prose story about how Bandette helps save one of the supporting characters in the main story.

Is there nothing Bandette cannot accomplish? Well, perhaps she cannot best Monsieur in their competition. Perhaps she cannot avoid the unlucky hands of Il Tredici. Perhaps she cannot avoid the vengeance of Absinthe. Perhaps she cannot save innocent lives from FINIS.

Ha ha! How droll! Of course Bandette can do all these things!

Verdict: Thumbs up. Like the first volume of this series, this is delightful, fun, charming, and an absolute joy to read. The stakes are higher, but the fun and the humor are still really strong — and there’s still nothing grander than watching Bandette pull off impossible and daring heists of wonderful things, all while keeping up a stream of hilarious and slightly demented patter.

Can’t say enough great things about both Tobin and Coover in this story. They both team up to create a beautifully French comic, with Tobin providing the gloriously Parisian plotlines and dialogue and Coover creating the romantic, exciting Paris that probably only exists in dreams.

You can also see Coover’s notes at the end of the comic about the people who inspired her depictions of all the major characters, which will probably send you reading back through the story to imagine what a “Bandette” movie would’ve looked like if they’d made it in the ’60s.

Don’t know what else to say. It’s an outstanding comic, great for kids or grownups, boys or girls. Go pick it up!

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Holiday Gift Bag: Bandette

I got so much stuff I want to review for the Gift Bag, and so little time left before Christmas, so I’m gonna try to get all the reviews I can. Today, we’re going to talk about Bandette, Volume One: Presto! by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover.


That’s our lead character up there — Bandette, agile, laughing, clever, somewhat deranged Parisian thief. We meet her for the first time while she’s robbing an underworld figure of some small Rembrandt portraits — and she’s soon on the run from his heavily armed guards. Perhaps she could escape from them on her own, but instead she enlists the aid of her Urchins — friends ranging from little children to ballerinas — to get the bad guys thrown off the scent.

And even though Bandette is a notorious — yet daring and celebrated — thief, she is pursued by the police — so that they can ask her for help! Her skills are so remarkable that she can take down a gang of armed robbers without difficulty! Is there nothing Bandette cannot accomplish? Well, perhaps she cannot best the famed thief Monsieur. Perhaps she cannot avoid the assassins of Finis. Perhaps she cannot avoid the blade of Matadori. Perhaps she cannot vanquish the heart of the hapless Daniel.

Ha ha! How droll! Of course Bandette can do all these things!

Verdict: Thumbs up. This is a wonderfully charming comic. Can I say it’s delightful and still keep my street cred? I don’t care, I’ll say it anyway. It’s delightful. Completely delightful.

Colleen Coover’s artwork is fun and charismatic and kinetic and joyful and dadgummed delightful. Her artwork will make you fall in love with Bandette and Daniel and Monsieur and Matadori and the ballerinas and even gruff Inspector Belgique. If you love Colleen Coover’s art, this should be on your wish list.

And Paul Tobin’s writing is equally fun and charismatic and joyful and delightful. He stuffs Bandette and all her friends (and her rivals, too) with so much personality and life. It’s an extraordinarily French comic. Well, I’m not sure how authentically French it may be — probably not very authentically French at all. But it sure as heck feels French, and you’ll spend the next few days after reading it wishing you could eat in small cafes and looking at pictures of Paris and muttering all the French words you know under your breath. It’s a grand and delightful piece of storytelling.

It strikes me that this is something that young female readers are going to enjoy greatly. Bandette is a wonderful, fun-loving heroine, and many of her friends and foes are girls, too. It’s got swashbuckling thievery, ballerinas, romance, and Paris — all things which many girls like. But on the other hand, I know this book is also very well-loved by many male readers as well.

It’s definitely the kind of comic that should be great for readers of all ages and all genders. So definitely go pick it up.

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Prepare to Read!


Prepare to Die! by Paul Tobin

I finished this one quite a while back, and I’ve just got such a huge backlog of books, it’s taken me this long to get a review written.

Y’all know Paul Tobin, right? He’s written so many comics. And here’s his superhero novel!

Steve Clarke went from 14-year-old rebel to first-rate superhero during a freak chemical accident. As Reaver, he’s superstrong, super-fast, and every time he punches someone, it literally takes a year off their life. But now, Reaver is one of the last superheroes on Earth, and after an encounter with the diabolical Octagon and his team of super-powered psychos, Steve gets beat down pretty hard. As the Octagon prepares his killing blow, he tells Reaver “Prepare to die!” So Steve says, okay, I’d like to have a month to prepare to die. He doesn’t get it — the Octagon gives him just two weeks to put his affairs in order, then he’ll be back to kill him.

So Steve goes back to his old hometown to find Adele, the girl he loved when he was 14. He starts up a (probably really short-lived) relationship with her, hangs out with Adele’s sister and her lesbian lover, and remembers all his old superhero friends, including Paladin, Steve’s best friend and Earth’s greatest hero, and Kid Crater, the sidekick who Steve failed. Can Steve face his death with dignity? Should he fight to survive? Will he be able to save Adele when the villains find out about her?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a good, fun book, full of humor, great characterization, absolutely terrifying action, at least one genuinely shocking plot twist, and a killer hook that’ll draw you in for the entire rest of the novel.

I loved the characters so much, and that’s what a good superhero novel needs. Steve is dark and conflicted… and depressed. He wanted so much to be like his best friend Paladin, and when he finds out that life isn’t all roses and glory for his friend, it breaks him pretty hard. Adele is a pretty great character, too, though I think I’ve got some quibbles about her, too. The Octagon and all the villains are amazingly scary — give deadly powers to a bunch of lunatics, and you’d get something like these guys. No wonder all the superheroes are dead.

The major quibble with this book is that it’s pretty neanderthal when it comes to women. Every woman Steve encounters, he either remarks on whether or not he wants to have sex with her — or he reminisces about previously having sex with her. Well, fine, Steve is a bit of a neanderthal anyway, right? Maybe so, but there are also a few weird things with Adele’s characterization — she apparently stayed obsessed with Steve after his accident and years-long coma, long after he’d completely disappeared from her life, to the point of becoming an alcoholic because she couldn’t stop thinking about him. That’s kinda sorta crazy, because most people get over even the worst heartbreak in time, especially heartbreak from when you were 14 years old. But the great male fantasy is that the girl you loved and lost would still love you today, right?

But there’s a lot of stuff to love about this book. The action is scare-the-pants-off-you good — Reaver is in over his head in almost every battle, and you’re always left wondering if even his healing factor will be able to keep up with all the damage he’s taking.

And I believe I’ve mentioned the plot twist already? I’ll mention it again. It’s very good. It’s very, very good. It’s really a bit of a masterwork of a plot twist.

It’s not at all bad, guys. Y’all should go pick it up.

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