Adele Blanc-Sec

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec, vol. 1: Pterror over Paris!

Jaques Tardi

I tend to like non-superhero comics and graphic novels so this cover piqued my interest:


The premise of the first volume of Adele Blanc-Sec is promising. A woman engages in a life of crime and high stakes adventure in Victorian-era Paris riddled with mad scientists, steam machines and large punctuation marks.

A female protagonist? Dinosaurs in Paris? How can this be bad?

a pterodactyl hatches from a fossilized egg in Paris’ Natural History Museum. Oh noes!

mustachioed men discuss the problem! O god!

very large punctuation marks occur! Holy crap!

While high on the sensationalism, the story of the plot left me totally confused. Who double-crossed whom?? Why are these people standing around? Who is in the coach?

Mostly I’m confused about the purpose for the main character. I understand that I can’t expect a great range of depth in characterization when the story is conveyed through serialized comic format, but this one was particularly lame. She gets dragged along and pushed and pulled thither and fro. She doesn’t make any decisions or take any actions. She’s double or triple crossed by absolutely everyone, and exhibits a starling lack of authority over her crime syndicate.


the quest for interesting graphic novels continues!

will this avid reader find well drawn comics with a story worth reading?

4 thoughts on “Adele Blanc-Sec

  1. The premise is good, add dinosaurs and a Paris setting and it sound even better. But…plots need to be pretty tight in graphic novels, at least for me. I need to follow the story even after I get distracted by pictures (distracted in a good way that is).

  2. I’ll need to track this one down, I think.

    Not sure I’ll ever leave the capes behind (btw – today’s new comic book day!)…I will say, you’ve really hooked me on Guy Delise – I snagged another of his (Shenzhen) at the library yesterday. Interesting cultural anthropology stuff scratches my former social studies teacher itch very effectively.

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