"The people of this modern world looks on their fellows as tools. To such people, men are nothing but a means, not an end in and of themselves. That leaves precious little room for honor, elegance and panache."
—Hyacinthe Cavallere a.k.a The Night Shirt
Originally titled Donjon Potron-Minet
, The Early Years
is a french Funny Animal
/Fantasy comic written by Joann Sfar
and Lewis Trondheim
and designed (in the beginning) by Christophe Blain
. The comic is part of the Dungeon Verse
created by Trondheim and Sfar and is chronologically the first in the series, chronicling the dungeon's eventual rise as well as the youth of its keeper Hyacinthe Cavallere.
As the comic starts, Hyacinthe has left his father's kingdom in order to go to the city to visit his uncle, the Count of Florotte, who was banished from the kingdom by Hyacinthe's grand-father, because a crippled prince would have brought shame on the family. Upon arriving in the city, Hyacinthe is taken in by his uncle, who in exchange for the room and board wants his nephew to become the assistant of Florotte's assistant, Michael. As luck would have it, Hyacinthe finds out that his uncle is more or less the local Mafia don and that Michael is his top henchman
. Determined to combat the crime and corruption of the city, without his uncle's knowledge, Hyacinthe becomes the masked avenger known as: The Night Shirt
(no, the silliness is not a translation mistake, the name was voluntary silly in French).
This comic contains examples of the following tropes:
- Affably Evil: Florotte, with emphasis on affably.
- Affectionate Parody: Of the Fantasy genre in general, and, in The Early Years, of swashbuckling fiction in particular.
- All Species Are Sexually Compatible
- Anachronic Order: The episodes aren't published in the chronological order.
- Betty and Veronica: Hyacinthe is torn between the gentle Elise and the immoral Alexandra.
- Body Horror: Horus, a student in necromancy, accidentally pulling out one of Hyacinthe's lungs as part of a trick he wanted to show in order to impress the main character, his friends and some local girls. Needless to say, they weren't impressed.
- It should be mentioned that Horus didn't intend to pull out Hyacinthe's lung, but his heart (and then put it back in).
- Functions as a kind of retroactive, very long-term Brick Joke, the "brick" being Horus (successfully) removing Herbert's heart at the beginning of the first volume of Dungeon: Zenith.
- Cats Are Mean: Michael, who is one of the worst examples of this trope.
- Cat Suit: Alexandra wears one in the second volume (second half of the first volume in English)
- Chekhov's Gun: The various artefacts of Destiny which Hyacinthe comes across. The reader is aware that they will have a major importance further down the storyline.
- Clear My Name: The Night Shirt is accused of murdering one of the professors at the university. Naturally, it's Michael who is the real culprit.
- The Dragon: Michael
- Evil Uncle: Florotte, although he treats his nephew pretty well (when not forcing him to participate in criminal schemes and such)
- Femme Fatale: Alexandra, the snake/lizard assassin whom Hyacinthe becomes hopelessly smitten with.
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Dr Hippolyte, although his idealism doesn't prevent him from seeing the greed and stupidity in other people.
- Jerk Ass: Michael, and how.
- Kick the Dog: Michael alters between this and genuine evil from the moment he's introduced.
- Level Up: Referenced in the numbering of the stories, which are classified by level. The higher the level, the later the story.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: Some of whom have their own Spin-Off stories.
- Mask Power: Subverted (at least in the beginning), since Hyacinthe, while an enthusiastic upholder of justice is quite clumsy, even with his mask on. he does get better though.
- Morality Chip: Carmor is limitated by one.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Horus, after realizing Chambon's plot (he'd been helping him up to that point, believing that if you can't make kings philosophers, the next best thing is to make the philosophers kings.
- Non-Mammal Mammaries
- Our Monsters Are Different: And how.
- Sarcastic Confession: Cormor's only way to lie.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Not surprising, since the Hyacinthe in the original Dungeon comic is a bitter, cynical and somewhat greedy character as opposed to the idealistic and romantic youth he is when The Early Years begins. Generally speaking, the series is intended to depict a slow and gradual slide from naive idealism to bitter cynicism, with a tone growing Darker and Edgier as the storyline progresses.
- Thigh-High Boots: Alexandra wears them. During Hyacinthe's Heroic BSOD following Alexandra (his mistress) killing his wife, he's shown to be paying prostitutes to put on the same kinds of boots she wears, and yells her name when orgasming.
- Took a Level in Badass: Hyacinthe starts out as a bumbling vigilante wannabe, and becomes a ruthless gang leader.
- The Unfavorite: Florotte clearly belonged to this trope when he was younger.
- Villain with Good Publicity: Florotte and Chambon both qualify, being well-respected members of the community and all.
- Zombify The Living: The wizards Horus and Alcibiade are trapped in a prison. Horus' plan is to cast a Necromancy by Anticipation spell, starve to death, be buried outside the prison, and then rise from the grave (and devouring an entire herd of cows to get back to true life). It works.