Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Book-A-Day 2010 # 6 (2/9) -- Dungeon Parade, Vol. 1 by Sfar, Trondheim & Larcenet

In the ever-proliferating world of Dungeon, the "Parade" books are the most frivolous piece of the epic, telling sidebar stories from the middle of the main continuity. I've reviewed various books from the Dungeon series before, but it's always felt like piecemeal -- maybe because the series is so wide, or because it seems to be expanding in several directions at once, or maybe just because I've never taken a serious look at the series, and just picked up books as I came across them. Whatever the reason, Dungeon has a lot of semi-separate stories -- even more than it may look like, since each of the books as published in the US contains at least two of the original French albums -- but they start linking up the more you read them. That they line up more thematically than with a straight through-line plot only makes them more interesting.

So, this is the first of the "Parade" books, which take place between the first and second books of "Zenith," and have more-or-less humorous stories of Herbert and Marvin (the duck and dragon on the cover) during a relatively happy time in their lives. (The "Twilight" books, set many years later, have a darker Herbert and Marvin, after many more adventures have happened to them -- the Dungeon books, as they add up, tend to give a dim view of adventure, as something that accumulates, like scar tissue, until you find that you can no longer move the way you once could, or feel what you once could.)

A Dungeon Too Many collects two French albums: in the first, a management trainee builds a second, competing dungeon right next to the original, and then lures away the customers (and the monsters) with his theme park-esque attractions. The second, which is closer to the tone of the later Dungeon stories, sees the Keeper send Marvin and Herbert to find a sage to decide what to do with the last wish in a magic lamp -- which leads them into a racial battle between overlord dogs and downtrodden ostriches. There's plenty of blood in both stories -- more than you might expect from the "funny" side of Dungeon -- but the second is darker and sadder, while the first is sillier, not as serious.

This wouldn't be the best place to start the Dungeon series -- though, on the other hand, it is a fairly frivolous, self-contained introduction to the central cast -- but it's another entertaining and sneakily thoughtful entry in a series that's much more than it appears.

Edit, the next day: Things I forgot to mention, the first time around:
  • the full title is Dungeon Parade, Vol. 1: A Dungeon Too Many
  • it was published by NBM in 2006, but should still be available from any decent comics retailer
  • it was written by Joann Sfar and Lewis Trondheim (like all of the Dungeon books), and has art by Manu Larcenet

Book-A-Day 2010: The Epic Index
Listening to: Rykarda Parasol - A Drinking Song
via FoxyTunes

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