Written by Joann Sfar and Lewis Trondheim
Art by Carlos Nine and Patrice Killoffer
96 pages, color
Published by NBM
Joann Sfar and Lewis Trondheim’s sprawling series Dungeon has always been all over the map, especially with all of its different sub-series (The Early Years exploring the past, Zenith the present, and Twilight the future, plus Parade set in the early days of Zenith), but the easiest one to jump into in many ways is probably Monstres. That’s because each story just focuses on a different monster or beast, telling their particular story whenever it might take place. This new collection of two of the Monstres volumes from France is all over the place, not only in setting but art style and writing to boot.
The first half, Heartbreaker, is set during The Early Years timeframe, taking supporting character Alexandra and showing us just how this beautiful assassin’s mind truly functions. It’s a slightly unpleasant story, with her continued captures and tortures not being a light or happy tale by any stretch of the imagination. It’s drawn by Carlos Nine, and I wish that he’d had the time to paint the interior like he did the book’s stunning cover. The interiors aren’t bad, but his loose lines and sketchy character designs just can’t compare to the cover and all of its beauty. Nine drawing Heartbreaker is an inspired choice, though; Alexandra spends much of the comic drugged by her enemies, and this slightly blurry, loose style is a great match. Readers of The Early Years definitely shouldn’t skip this volume, though; it ties closely into the main narrative, and Sfar and Trondheim provide a big surprise for readers of that series at Heartbreaker‘s conclusion.
The second half, The Depths, is drawn by Patrice Killoffer, whose precise and smooth ink line is a dramatic contrast to Nine’s work. And while the first half was grim in a hazy sort of way, there’s no escaping the sheer nastiness of this story when Killoffer draws its events. This is easily the most (deliberately) vile and horrible story in the Dungeon milieu to date, as the poor underwater creature Drowny goes through all sorts of nasty situations in order to survive when the Great Khan’s armies invade. There’s a huge amount of detail packed into every single panel, but be warned that you might not want to look too closely. This story is designed to repulse its reader, and at that it succeeds mightily. Dungeon Monstres Vol. 3: Heartbreaker seems to see just how low it can go, and while I applaud it for succeeding, it’s the one Dungeon book I can’t see myself wanting to ever re-read.