Writer: Jason Hall
Artist: Cliff Chiang
Here's one for those still pining over the cancellation of SANDMAN MYSTERY THEATRE, another period urban crime series, this one set in Paris during the mid-1920s. The city is under assault on two fronts: the establishment by the libertine excesses of a burgeoning Surrealist movement, and the boulevard's bordellos by a serial rapist. Both attract the attention of the police, but their priorities are dictated by the conservative elite; only Inspector Allain seems remotely interested in protecting the women the authorities write off as worthless prostitutes. He's also amongst a number of men smitten by Judith, one of two sisters who survived the war with entirely different perspectives.
While practical, reserved Madeline still has nightmares of the bombing which struck their church and killed their parents, Judith's dreams are of an altogether more erotic nature - erotic and satanic. Judith's
voracious appetite for sex is exercised with an equal strength during her waking hours, flirting incessantly - and successfully - with any moth that strays towards her dazzling light. She's another of those determined to make a splash on the art scene, drinking in and serving up spectacle with relish, but when she sways outside of her sister's protective custody she finds herself at the rough end of the other series of assaults, from a man wearing a devil's mask. And if that part of her dream has been realised, what about the cackling female figure with the purple fright wig, leaping across the Parisian rooftops, echoing the rapist's gloating whisper: "Beware..."
The comparison with SANDMAN MYSTERY THEATRE holds up in almost every aspect, right up to the dream element. The art is a little cleaner, with more than a nod towards Ditko (particularly in Judith's face), but once more the protagonists are grounded in some impeccably rendered scenery, and the man has captured the mood and the city perfectly. Thumbs up, for the moment. Next issue, please.
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