Bandette Volume 3: House of the Green Mask by Tobin and Coover

Bandette 3: House of the Golden Mask continues Tobin’s and Coover’s wonderful tale of chocolate and larceny. What might have become a one-trick pony is instead saved by smart story choices and character growth. There are surprises/twists at the end but at its heart, this is really all about hoping Bandette will show up in every panel.

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Story: A legendary woman modeled for all the great artists in the impressionistic era – and hid all her treasures in ‘the house of the green mask’. But where is this treasure now? Bandette has the clues but so do Monsieur and his lovely new accomplice Margot. When several people with ties to the Green Mask are kidnapped, including Bandette’s precious Daniel, the mystery becomes personal. Using all her resources (and manhandling some pigeons in the process), the race to find the House of the Green Mask is on!

I really love the mix of mod 1960s styles (think Austin Powers without the silliness) with an infectious exuberance. As well, the relationship of Bandette and delivery man Daniel is perfectly written – neither soppy nor overly earnest. There’s even a great “Spiderman” inspired kiss in the middle with Bandette hanging upside down from her wire. This is truly a series that could have gone very wrong easily but somehow this bit of magical realism hits all the right notes for a grand adventure you don’t want to end.

Of the new characters in this volume, my favorite would have to be Quant-attired Dart Petite. Her deadpan singlemindedness contrasted with Bandette’s squirrely casualness were a pleasure to read. I could see her in any number of fun 1960s spoof movie/series from Get Smart to Our Man Flint. I hope to see her again in future volumes.

House of the Green Mask completes this story arc but sets up for future volumes with a new big bad in the form of The Voice. I greatly look forward to the next Bandette to see where her adventures go from here! Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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