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Benny Breakiron Vol. 2: Madame Adolphine
posted September 9, 2013

imageCreators: Peyo, Will Maltaite
Publishing Information: Papercutz, hardcover, 64 pages, 2013, $11.99.
Ordering Numbers: 9781597074360 (ISBN13)

The second book in NBM's re-presentation of Peyo's Benoit Brisefer comics benefits from the overall class of material selected: talented craftspeople working in a popular mode in a strong era for that kind of art. You get the same feeling from Peyo's work here that you get from certain eras of pop music or movie-making, this kind of hinted-at force of an entire school of work clamoring for attention, a wave of material pumping on all cylinders. Benny Breakiron is a small boy who is incredibly strong, very polite when it comes to abusing that power, but certainly not afraid to press for advantage if the situation calls for it. Here he encounters a robot built to look like a local woman; the robot has malfunctioned in a way that she does evil things. The majority of the plot as it unfolds is mistaken identity shenanigans mixed with a straight-forward attempt by Benny to stop the robot version of Madame Adolphine from committing crimes and in doing so clearing the flesh-and-blood version's name. With the established hitches in the character's overall story also present -- he hides his powers for the most part, and can't use them when he's sick -- that's a lot of comedic material with which to work. In an age where so many of the lengthy, new comic works suffer from an agonizing slackness in their middle and later sections, this laconically-paced kids story is a model of rattled-off set pieces and funny business.

This is not material aimed at adults, but humor works the same in a lot of instances no matter the relative simplicity of the motives involved. Benny Breakiron amused me about once a page; a line about a man watching Benny Breakiron kill himself again (he's unaware of his strength) when he sees him jumping off a train after previously encountering him leaping from a window made me chuckle. I don't think these comics are wholly memorable in the way that they'll hold a special place in a lot of kids' memories: the characters are mostly flat and unmemorable, for one. Still, a well-crafted comic is nothing to be sneezed at, and these are good enough they make a forceful case for their decades-old pacing and elaborate, sturdy, page designs. I hope they find an audience.