Artist: Stephane Oiry
Colorist: Stephane Oiry (with Melanie)
Lettering: Calix Ltd.
Translator: Emma Wilson
Published by: Dupuis/Europe Comics
Number of Pages: 50
Original Publication: 2015
Oh, Maggy. Just what have you gotten yourself into now? Is the 15,000 quid worth it?
The Story So Far
I didn’t mention a lot of the complications in the first volume when I wrote that review, because I didn’t want to spoil you. If you’re here reading a review of volume 2, I’m assuming you read volume 1 already. I’ll be dropping spoilers for v1 aplenty in a moment.
But, first: If you haven’t read volume 1, do that now. Read my review for why.
OK, back to spoiling: The tickets in that wallet led Maggy to the Brighton Pier with her new sorta-boyfriend, Alex, the guy who threatened her at her door earlier in the book. He’s an enforcer with a heart of gold, you see. Also, it turns out that her police friend, Sheena, isn’t as pure as she looks, and is trying to get the money attached to those tickets, too.
So Maggy’s boyfriend beats Sheena up, the two of them collect the money, split it in half, and drive merrily off into the sunset to celebrate between the sheets.
Things quickly get complicated.
Crime Story Comparisons
My favorite television show of all time, after “Babylon 5”, is “The Shield.” That’s the one with Michael Chiklis. Produced in the shadow of “The Sopranos,” it had an ending most critics agree is one of the best of all time. Unlike “The Sopranos.”
In the series, the crooked team of cops led by Chiklis’ character hijacks an Armenian money train and find themselves in the possession of an insane amount of cash. That’s not where the story ends. That’s only where things get wilder, because getting away with a crime is often much harder than pulling it off in the first place. That reminds me a lot of what this book is doing.
Maggy and her beau, Alex, got away with 30,000 quid at the end of the first volume. Now the trick is to get away with it. Hide it, he says, and don’t touch it for a year. Don’t ever talk to anyone else about it. Don’t get caught. Act natural.
Right. Easier said than done. Maggy plays it cool and is smart enough to know when people are looking and what they might be looking for, but she’s hardly an experienced criminal, and this one act is both a blessing and a curse. She starts off by worrying over how to hide the stacks of cash. Which spots are too obvious? Which ones would any person on the street think of? Where can she hide money in her small flat that won’t be accidentally found by any random visitor?
Honestly, it’s a very relatable moment. I can’t think of a single place I could hide anything in my house where I could guarantee nobody would find it, let alone a stack of cash like that.
How can Maggy hold onto her new boyfriend — who just beat up the woman she thought was a friend — without anyone getting mad or ticking them off just enough that they might turn on her, in a legal sense?
This book is a high wire act. Maggy is walking a very fine line, and gets it crossed once or twice. That fragility is very exciting, from a story sense. It creates natural drama at every moment. Trondheim doesn’t go for the cheap thrills or the page-turning shock, though. He plays it as an undertone as she goes about her daily life.
With one possible exception, he keeps the crime element of the story very straightforward and ground level. This isn’t about orchestrating a massive sting or using exceptional spying devices to get answers, or hacking into some private company for their secrets.
There IS one scene where Alex is trying to recover some closed circuit television footage that begins to stretch some of this credulity, but Trondheim keeps it reigned in tightly enough that I don’t question it too hard. Plus, he turns that scene into a bit of a double cross, so the reader is distracted by the personal drama and doesn’t question the logic of the crime Alex is committing.
That might just be the script’s smartest move.
Maggy the Reborn Detective
Maggy also picks up a new gig as a detective, ransacking an ex-wife’s house looking for proof of something.
That brings her back into conflict with her boss, Detective Wight, and gets her an introduction to the world of actual licensed detective work. Maggy, the slightly dysfunctional anti-authoritarian figure, has to learn to be thorough and stick to a schedule for the investigation.
Along the way, she gets back to her inventiveness — her scrappiness, as I called it in the first review — to save the day. Trondheim does a good job in marrying the two worlds. He evolves her character while not forgetting what her unique differentiating factor is. Who she is matters just as much as who she is becoming.
Is it possible she could take this career turn seriously and become a licensed detective? I don’t think that is where this series is going. She’s just as likely to become a secretary or a store clerk and use that to her advantage while she makes a few spare bucks. But her personality type works well with this kind of gig, so maybe she could consider it.
If her mentor, Detective Wight, has a sudden urge to retire or is killed in the line of work, she could theoretically take over his practice unofficially. Maybe?
Oiry’s style is consistent with the first book. I’m sure they were done back to back. He’s still amazing at drawing all the simple stuff. He makes characters who look comfortable sitting on bar stools, and believable in those quieter moments where their facial reaction tells you the story, not some thought balloon or captions box.
It’s his storytelling that continues to wow me. This is the kind of book that would be a boring slog to most any North American comic book artist who likes drawing action scenes and super muscular people bouncing all over the place. This book is all about a variety of people looking real. Oiry moves the camera around, picks the right angles for the right moments, and blends them all together in a sequence that’s easy to follow.
For a great example of how he moves the camera around to best tell the story, lets take this page from the first volume. It shows walking down the street, and the man who is obviously following her:
It’s a great sequence that’s easy to follow, with all of the background details that help to anchor the scene. That moment where she asks him if he’s following her just after he passes her up is perfect.
No panel in this series goes without a background. With the 12 panel grid on every page, there are a lot of sequences where Oiry can “lock down the camera” and let the action unfold in front of the reader. Those are relative simple to draw compared to how the final product looks. He can copy-and-paste the background, then “just” draw the new locations of characters in each panel. Simple trick, but very professional and polished.
I’m also sure he’s reusing backgrounds from the first volume in the second, as there are certain locations we see repeatedly, often from the same angle. And, if so, good for him. You need to do those kinds of things to get the job done and to give it some consistency.
Yes, if you liked the first book. This one sticks to the story that the first volume began, and adds lots of layers and difficulties to it. Trondheim and Oiry keep the inventive detective work element, while drawing heat on Maggy for her past actions. You get the best of both worlds in her professional and personal lives. You get the feeling that the snowball is rolling down the hill now, but not that it’s out of control. Trondheim has a game plan here.
This series ends with the third volume, so all is about to be revealed.
— 2018.015 —
To Be Continued…
I’ve reviewed all three books in the series.
Go back to Volume One:
Jump ahead to Volume Three:
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