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The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec: Pterror over Paris and The Eiffel Tower Demon (The Extraordinary Adventures of Adéle Blanc-Sec) Hardcover – December 6, 2010

3.5 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Popular in Europe, these historical adventures of a fearless female journalist in belle epoque Paris begins a new reprint series with a fresh English translation. In 1911 Paris, a pterodactyl has hatched and is terrorizing the city. We first meet Adele impersonating a woman she has kidnapped, working on engineering a jailbreak to find stolen funds. Somehow, these plot lines intertwine, along with a gentleman hunter, changing alliances, and various double-crosses. After battling the beast and the events that result, Adele and her circle of adversaries chase a mysterious Assyrian statue of a demon. Tardi's art well deserves the praise that he's a grandmaster of comics. It's detailed, expressive, authentic, and distinctive. His world-building is thorough, the setting established through both background art and scene selection. Frequent recaps keep the reader up to speed, while emphasizing how amusingly convoluted everything quickly becomes. Tardi knows the conventions of this kind of rollicking, complicated adventure, and the story points out how ridiculous they are at the same time it's engaging in them. This oversized volume contains two adventures, with two more due next year. (Dec.)
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From Booklist

The prolific French comic artist Tardi has worked in a wide variety of genres, from hard-boiled crime stories to broad humor, but he is best known for his series featuring Adèle Blanc-Sec, a writer whose investigations lead her to run-ins with the occult, mad scientists, and other bizarre phenomena in early-twentieth-century Paris. In these two initial installments, the city is terrorized by a pterodactyl hatched from an egg in the Natural History Museum, and the intrepid Adèle hunts down a statuette of an ancient demon that’s also being sought by a sinister cult. The mysteries are compelling enough, but the best is what’s found around the edges: elements that spice up the proceedings by parodying disloyal henchmen, inept gendarmes, and talky exposition; the meticulously rendered belle epoque settings (the confrontation with the cult leader takes place, naturally, atop the Eiffel Tower); and Adèle herself, who, at least at this early stage, is an intriguing cipher. But the main attraction is Tardi’s gorgeous visuals, with their supple line work and elegant compositions. --Gordon Flagg
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Product Details

  • Series: The Extraordinary Adventures of Adéle Blanc-Sec (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics; Reprint edition (December 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1606993828
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606993828
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 0.6 x 11.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,050 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was given the french original many years ago, and fell in love with the art. I have gradually made up a story to explain what is going on - with the help of my high school french, and the occasional french visitor. Well, nothing comes close to finally reading the real thing in English. The story does not disappoint, and Adele is a complex, interesting character. I can't wait for the next volume to learn more about her. The hardback is well produced, and the price at Amazon is excellent. (Also, the trailers for the Besson film look great!)
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Recalling Tardi's great work from the American edition of Heavy Metal magazine back in it's early years in the late seventies, I had to assume that the storyteller had lost some of his edge over the years. The truth is he's a pleasant surprise with that same sharp wit and cunning storytelling skill, and still a master of the form. He's lost none of the edge that made him a popular import all those years ago. What is striking about this collection of two tales that intertwine with rich complexity and humane brevity is that by the end of the tale Adele remains an enigma full of questions unanswered and a lot hinted at, remaining unresolved. The cynical wit and razor's edge escapes as well as the delightfully off kilter twists and turns makes this a fun, engaging read with promises of a lot more to come.
I hope there will be at least several more episodes of this series to read over the coming years.
I can't wait to see the film, subtitles and all.
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Format: Hardcover
In 1967 Paris revised its building code, producing a master plan which threw out the old requirements that building height be limited by street width and that buildings be aligned with each other. Meant to encourage fashionable contemporary ideas on city planning, it resulted in massive, impersonal modern skyscrapers shattering and fragmenting old neighborhoods and the accompanying rise of automotive traffic. Although the code was revised in 1974, a great deal of damage had already been done.

I think that background has to be considered in the 1976 publication of the first of Jacques Tardi's comics of the Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec. Murky, confusing, and frustrating, these illustrated adventures are a lovingly detailed tribute to the Paris that used to be.

From the first panoramic view of the dramatically night-lit Jardin des Plantes (and then its marvelous museum interior), "The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec" is a beautifully-drawn evocation of 1911 Paris, a jaw-dropping marvel of visual historical research. Tardi has a good intricate pen technique that demonstrates a real affection for the past.

The colors are dark and murky. All the reds are brownish-reds, all the blues grayish, all the yellows mustardy, the greens olive. The only bright color is the red of blood when someone is wounded.

But ... I hate the story. The main character, Adèle Blanc-Sec, is an enigma. Is she a hero? A villain? She is introduced as kidnapping someone, but we don't know who or why. There is a bizarrely convoluted plot involving a hatched pterodactyl, and ... well, I'm not exactly sure what. I can't make it out.

The men are extremely difficult to tell apart from one another.
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Format: Hardcover
My friend gave this to me with this preface: "The woman at the bookstore who sold it to me was going gaga over this book, but after I read it I have to admit I don't really get it. Here, maybe you'll like it." And thus Adele Blanc-Sec made its way into my collection.

The plot is hard to follow and I read it in a half-bemused, half-interested state, but I did finish it and I enjoyed it. I loved the art style and the way the period was set and illustrated, and that alone was really enough to carry me though it. But the strangest part was after I read it I kept thinking about it, day dreaming in Jacques Tardi-esque panels. I also picked up volume 2.

I would definitely recommend this if you want to read something different and have a little cash to drop. Don't have high expectations, just let it wash over you and enjoy the art on every page. As for the story, well, it's an excuse for the art. Even so, the unusual style and muddled storytelling definitely charmed me.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm always interested in expanding my comic book reading beyond American superheroes, and that drive - combined with forever being interested in Luc Besson on the strength of The Professional/The Fifth Element - is the long and short of how I found Jacques Tardi and his creation, Adele Blanc-Sec. I'm glad I did, even if I didn't love this volume.

There's a lot to like here. Tardi's art reminds me of Kevin O'Neill (of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 1 fame), there's a strong sense of time & place and the whole thing feels very cinematic, especially at the larger page size. The plot is loaded with pulpy, comic book sci-fi/fantasy elements like the pterodactyl on the cover, and a Babylonian cult plotting to unleash the plague on turn of the 20th century Paris. I'm a sucker for that kind of stuff, but the remarkable thing is how well Adele's adventures mix it with an almost gritty real world of double-crossing criminals, ass-covering bureaucrats and police of questionable competency and ethics. This isn't unique, but it is impressively executed.

Not as impressive is the amount of telling instead of showing. Granted, the plots are intricate, and that's part of what Tardi is going for, but there should be another way to structure the story so that all of that info dump doesn't occur at once. I found Tardi's character designs distinct enough to differentiate the characters, but it wasn't clear to me that the title character is meant to be a reporter (heck, I wasn't 100% sure she was a heroine until mid-way through the second story). So, for me, his writing has some catching up to do in terms of effectively conveying major story details.
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