Digital Comic Overlook #2: Bandette #1
The tour of Eisner-nominated titles for Best Digital Comic continues with Bandette, by writer Paul Tobin and his wife, artist Colleen Coover. Best Digital Comic is not, incidentally, the only award associated with Bandette. Ms. Coover is also a nominee for the Best Inker/Penciller Award. Fantastic news, as I am — above all — easily swayed by pretty pictures. Talk about setting me up with ridiculously high expectations!
Bandette may also be the first nominee that isn’t a “webcomic”, per se. The comic falls on the “digital comic” side of things. Bandette is downloadable through Comixology, which means that you gotta shell out a dollar an issue. Being not made of money (or a measly $3, which I then turned around and reinvested in the latest issue of IDW’s Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye), I did this review based on the first issue (which is currently free) and on the three page previews of the subsequent issues.
Bandette is a plucky rogue… a thief with a smile on her face and a devil-may-care attitude. She pets dogs while sneaking into houses and rides around on a cute little vespa. She is also French. While the comic is in English, Mr. Tobin replicates the grammar in such a way that the intended language is never in doubt. “Ah, no, you are quite mistaken,” Bandette says at one point. “You are again thinking of bulls, but I am the fox! I am a thief! I am Bandette!” Ah, such lyrical language, this one. It makes you want to pour yourself a glass of sherry while snacking on la fromage, it does.
Bandette’s costume consists of an unflattering red frock, black tights, a domino mask, and what turns out to be a bright red fright wig. Yes, folks, just like Batgirl before her (or at least the Adam West version), Bandette is a natural brunette whose superhero identity is that of a redhead. (Shoot, even her cape turns into her skirt, which I distinctly remember Barbara Gordon doing in a Silver Age Batman comic. I am almost convinced that this is a direct homage.)
She’s also not one to work alone. As she makes her getaway, she is assisted by a Thai food delivery boy, ballerinas, and what I image are French street toughs circa 1980′s. They all seem to be united by a common logo, which looks like an emoticon in the middle of seizure.
Bandette also seems to be on decent terms with the local inspector. While her less savory habits are a matter of public record, it seems that she’s a pretty nifty ally when more serious crimes rear their head. Like, say, hostage situations? I suppose it would be nice to see what relationship Inspector Belgique and Bandette have, but that seems to be something for Issue #2.
The free issue was fairly short. Comixology lists it at 16 pages. However, that includes the cover, the inner cover, and the author biographies. All told, there’s only 13 pages of content. This is one of the reasons I hesitated downloading any further issues. While the story was breezily fun, and while Ms. Coover’s art did live up to its billing, the introductory issue felt a little skimpy on content. If I were asked to pay for this issue, would I do it? Probably not, given that it’s so light and inconsequential. Bandette tries to steal something, she gets caught, she evades capture by the bad guys, who are foiled. Not much to whet the appetite. Why would I want to pay for this … or any other further issues of Bandette?
Overall, though, I did like the atmosphere of the story. Comixology’s blurb mentions that “Bandette treads a thin line between Tintin and Nancy Drew,” and I’d say that’s a pretty fair assessment. Like Tintin, there’s adventure and danger with good humor sprinkled throughout. Though little wanting in plot, it’s not a bad read.
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5).