La Grande Odalisque

La Grande OdalisqueSummary: Alex and Carole are two high-powered, seductive and unscrupulous burglars who are capable of stealing any painting from any museum. Their search for a driver leads them to meet Sam, a female motorcycling champion who has a wide range of talents… Ruppert & Mulot join Bastien Vivès to bring us the most seductive of sagas!

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La Grande Odalisque, by Bastien Vivès, Mulot, and Ruppert 7.5

‘La Grande Odalisque’ is an action-adventure story featuring  female protagonists, all of them high-stakes thieves. Our story starts with a robbery in progress at an art gallery, showing us the roles that Alex and Carole play in the operation and what their respective limitations are. It’s an exciting beginning to what will be a rollercoaster ride.

From that point, our duo is hired to steal a painting, “La Grande Odalisque”, from The Louvre. It’s a massive job, so they decide to add another member to their team. Enter Sam, a daredevil motorcyclist who will help them get in and out of the world-renowned museum.

Unfortunately, Alex has a tendency of complicating things with her love life,  which means that the trio finds itself getting into all sorts of trouble, fighting militia and other nasties!

This book reads extremely well – breezily, even. It’s kind of akin to Luc Besson’s ’80s and ’90s action films in tone, even if the artistic style is nothing like it: it’s fast-paced, while developing its characters somewhat, it’s gritty, it has intriguing female leads who are on the opposite side of the law, and it creates a sort of hyper-reality without obliterating all credibility.

In short, it’s well-done, dumb fun.

The art is where the book stumbles the most, in that its style is sketchy in a way that is reminiscent of Joann Sfar’s work. Whereas the latter works well in the confines of books for younger audiences, I felt that it didn’t translate well to a more adrenalized type of story: in some ways, it made the book seem like less than it actually is; I would have passed on it if not for its recommendation by another graphic novel reader.

And yet, it doesn’t lack precision. While everything looks like doodles, the artists mostly had the proportions and framing right, which suggests that they do have a flair for composition. And yet, for some reason, they don’t have the degree of penciling skill one might expect. To make matters more bewildering, the book was put together by three people. Three! Sfar often does everything himself!

Be that as it may be, ‘La Grande Odalisque’, is an exciting tome and I would actually be interested in reading another adventure featuring Alex, Carole and Sam should the authors decide to turn it into a series of books. I will certainly keep an eye out for another, in the hope that Vivès, Mulot and Ruppert will deliver yet again. No doubt it will be a fun ride.

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