Comic Book / Grandville

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Damn Frenchies!
Grandville, A Detective-Inspector LeBrock of Scotland Yard Scientific-Romance Thriller, is the title of a series created by British comic artist Bryan Talbot. Inspired by Jean Ignace Isidore Gérard's work of Funny Animal sketches (whose stage name was J.J. Grandville, the basis of the graphic novel's title), he made the graphic novel, along with inspiration from works of Arthur Conan Doyle, Quentin Tarantino and Rupert Bear.

Grandville is set in a fictional Steam Punk Europe, where France won The Napoleonic Wars. The setting is full of anthropomorphic animals... although there have been appearances of humans. The series stars Detective-Inspector Archie LeBrock of Scotland Yard, a huge, muscular badger, solving mysterious cases along with his sidekick Detective Roderick Ratzi, a rat.

The series has concluded with five books released. The first book is simply titled Grandville released in October 2009, while the second book is titled Grandville: Mon Amour (My Love in French) that was released in December 2010. The third book, Grandville: Bête Noire ("Black Beast") was published in 2012. The first book focuses on solving a murder of a British diplomat, which is soon revealed to be part of a wider conspiracy. The second book is Archie tracking down a mad, escaped convict named Edward "Mad Dog" Mastock. The third book is set in France, beginning when LeBrock's French colleague Rocher asks for help solving a murder case, but it quickly turns out to be more than it seems. A fourth album, Grandville: Nöel was released at Christmas 2013, in which Archie investigates a cult led by a charismatic unicorn, and its connection to a sinister political movement. The final book is Grandville Force Majeure ("Superior Force"), published in 2017.

All books have been released in America by Dark Horse Comics. See Blacksad for another similar series (but with less fantasy).

Tropes:

  • Action Girl: Billie the prostitute from Noel. She knocks out Apollo's guards during the mission to rescue Bunty by elbowing and headbutting them.
  • Affably Evil: Prime Minister Drummond in the second volume, who's a rather affable chap even after it's revealed he conspired with Woolf to kill off all of the other resistance leaders at the Brick Lane Massacre, claiming I Did What I Had to Do.
  • Alternate History: The setting is Britain that had lost the Napoleonic War 200 years ago, and the royal family were executed. It had then been part of the French empire until twenty-three years previous when it was begrudgingly given independence after a prolonged campaign of civil disobedience and anarchist bombings. Now it's called The Socialist Republic of Britain, a small and unimportant country connected to the French Empire by the Channel railway bridge.
    • The fourth book reveals that the divergence occurred much before then, sometime around the Biblical Flood. When Noah's Arc reached the dry land, the arc was somehow occupied by sapient animals instead of humans and animals. Exactly what happened there, nobody is sure. It also reveals that the Christianity in the Grandville universe posits Noah as God and is ignorant to the notion of the Abrahamic God as we know it, though it does have Jesus as an unknown specie. Knowledge to the contrary has been systematically destroyed over the centuries except for one copy of the gospels that state Jesus was a human and a single copy of Genesis in Hebrew that includes the first six chapters before Noah and the flood.
    • Strangely, although a newspaper in Mon Amour gives the year as 2010 (which fits with the timeline of the Napoleonic Wars), 19th-century figures such as Gustave Courbet and, it's implied, Sigmund Freud are alive.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The Knights of Lyon, the cult responsible for the murder. It is even connected to The Knights Templar.
    • They were wrong though, that it was actually the Knights of the Lion, with the lion being Emperor Napoleon XII. In fact, the Knights of the Lion equates to The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: weapons dealer and newspaper owner Madame Krupp, The Prime Minister Jean-Marie Lapine, Reinhardt the Minister of War, the Archbishop of Paris, and Hyen the Chief of Police.
  • Animal Stereotypes and Animal Motifs: Largely averted. For example, the cops aren't canines at all. On the other hand, the emperor is a lion. Archie himself fits the stereotype of a steadfast and doughty badger.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: The Knights of LyonThe Lion.
  • Author Avatar: The fourth book introduces a piscine "true crime" writer named Byron Turbot. LeBrock is not impressed.
    • He later shows up in the fifth book, hoping to serialise the criminal cases of LeBrock. Once again, LeBrock is not impressed.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: LeBrock is always sharply dressed, even when he goes off to kill a lot of people.
  • Badass in Distress: Not for long, though. LeBrock and Chance in Noir are temporarily hypnotized by Apollo then knocked out and tied up. LeBrock just uses his teeth to bite the ropes binding them when no one's looking.
  • Badass Longcoat: Ratzi also belongs to that. Chance from Noel also has a good-looking brown duster.
  • Big Bad:
    • Grandville - The Knights of Lyon The Lion, which turns out to be an Omniscient Council Of Vagueness, with the lion being Emperor Napoleon XII.
    • Mon Amour - Prime Minister Drummond
    • Bête Noire - Baron Aristotle Krapaud
    • Nöel - Elvis Yorkshire, The Man Behind the Man for Apollo's cult
    • Force Majeure - Tiberius Koenig, along with a trio of high-ranking corrupt cops led by DI Pongo Dearly
  • Berserk Button: Do not call Apollo "John".
  • The Big Guy and by virtue Genius Bruiser: LeBrock.
  • Bulletproof Vest: LeBrock wears one under his waistcoat, though it looks to be like some sort of super-strong chainmail.
  • Carnivore Confusion: There's a scene involving LeBrock asking for a full English breakfast, which included meat. This is weird as there are, in fact, non-carnivorous anthropomorphic characters. The fourth book also mentions that some anthropomorphic animals do deviate from the diets of their -non-anthro counterparts. See also Furry Confusion.
  • Christmas Episode: Noel. Notably, aside from a MacGuffin, the idea of Christmas doesn't play a huge role in the main events of the plot besides the fact that it's winter and the final scene has LeBrock at a Christmas party.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Aristotle Krapaud in "Bête Noire" is this, with a hint of Wicked Cultured Bond villain.
  • Conspiracy Thriller
  • Cultured Badass: Detective Ratzi. He may look like a pampered gentleman, what with the monocle and bow-tie, but he can kick ass.
  • Dirty Communists: Averted as a whole. "The Socialist Republic of Britain" shows nearly nothing that we associate with Communism or Socialism other than a brief, sarcastic mention of being a "classless society". It almost comes off as Informed Socialism.
    • The French Revolutionary Council is closer to actual socialism. According to the industrialists meeting at Toad Hall in "Bête Noire" the Council's policies include wide ranging nationalizations and universal healthcare and education.
    • We are told that the enemy in French Indo-China are the "Communards," however.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Twice in book four. Once when Chance is pointing his gun at LeBrock and all he expresses is mild surprise and once when Chance and LeBrock try to capture Apollo in a dressing room before a speech and point four guns at him. Apollo weaponizes this, using his calmer speech to catch them off guard and momentarily hypnotize them.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Ground Zero. Just Ground Zero.
    • For those who haven't read the first book, much of the story is a metaphor for The War on Terror.
    • There are even protesters that are against the French war in Indo-China rallying in the streets of Paris!
      • This applies pretty much to the entirety of the whole book really.
    • In Noel, humans are not just a despised minority, but the one targeted by the Nazi-equivalents, and the Christianity of this world tends not to mention that Jesus was from this group (albeit through a conspiracy of silence rather than just glossing over it). Hmm...
  • The Dragon: Various throughout the series
    • Grandville - The Knights of the Lion are this to Emperor Napoleon XII, until most of them are killed, and Reinhardt very briefly becomes a Dragon Ascendant
    • Mon Amour - LeBrock's boss, Brigadier Belier is secretly this to the Prime Minister, while Edward "Mad Dog" Mastock is this to the Brigadier
    • Bête Noire - Baron Krapaud's unnamed secretary is this to him
    • Nöel - Apollo is revealed to be this for the book's true villain, Elvis Yorkshire
    • Force Majeure - Tiberius Koenig has his brothers, Agrippa & Quintilianus, Mister Croc, and personal bodyguard, Roger the Bull, while his brother, Quintilianus, had Tasso while he was away in London.
  • Fantastic Racism: The anthro characters aren't too fond of the humans, calling them with racist terms (see Fantastic Slurs below) and giving them menial tasks. According to LeBrock, they've not made it to Britain because they weren't allowed passports, as they were not granted citizens' rights. Some information from the fourth book suggests that the antis-human prejudice has much deeper and bloody roots.
    • The Archbishop in the first book expresses disgust at interspecies mating. It is uncertain if that is because he believes in the separation of races (akin to prejudice against mixed-race relationships) or simply because he sees it as a sign of general deviancy. Mrs's Doyle's (LeBrock's housekeeper) comments in Noel suggest the former is the case.
    • In the second book, a badger prostitute attempts to proposition two ducks, who turn her down because she "isn't even waterfowl."
    • The fourth book has some notions that the United States is a better off compared to France and England. According to Chance, since the U.S. won a war of independence against France, "doughface" is a slur and humans and animals are treated equally.
  • Expy: Chance from Noel looks a little like Clint Eastwood's "The Man With No Name".
  • Faux Affably Evil: Apollo is quite personable with large crowds and potential followers, and is potentially crucial to his hypnotic/Glamour abilities. Any scene that doesn't have him in the public spotlight, however, shows him as a ruthless, crazed maniac with full-on A God Am I mentality who plans to use his powers for political extremist reasons. This is not helped by Elvis Yorkshire constantly being in the background and using this for his own gains.
  • Fantastic Slurs: French animal people call the humans as "doughfaces".
  • Foil: Chance Lucas in Noir is this to LeBrock. He's also an agent from an outside country in France, he's pretty genial after the initial encounter, fights to disarm rather than to kill, and has much more sympathy compared to Sociopathic Hero LeBrock.
  • French Jerk: Something shown a lot in the first book. There's even a chef who would rather slit his own wrists than to serve an English meal.
    • Admittedly, in this world France and England have an EXTREMELY hostile relationship, so this may be justified.
  • Freudian Excuse: Koenigin was emotionally (and possibly physically) abused by his parents, forced to sleep in the basement, and was constantly picked on by his older siblings until he turned eleven, when he quite literally bit back at the world, starting with two of his brothers
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the third book, Rocher mentions that a cult has recently moved in to Paris and a bunch of places got robbed. It essentially sets the stage for the fourth book.
    • Similarly, the ending of the fourth book seemingly reveals a character that had already been mentioned in the past as a future villain.
    • Within the fourth book itself: during a fight with some mooks, Chance shoots them in the gun or the hand, disarming while doing little actual damage, then snidely comments on LeBrock for using excessive force. Despite chasing down Apollo for revenge for his daughter's death, he can't kill him even at point blank with Apollo knocked out. Subverted when he kills Elvis Yorkshire, who was behind Apollo's fanatic cult.
  • Fully Dressed Cartoon Animal: All the animal characters.
  • Furry Comic
  • Furry Confusion: In Coco's room, we see a bear rug.
    • And at least two minor characters (one of which is a waiter) are fish. Fish that breath air.
    • Other characters have been seen walking dogs or owning other non-anthro pets.
  • Glamour: Part of what makes Apollo so dangerous is that, according to Chance, unicorns have this by default. Anyone who looks at them directly will trust them completely. Apollo enhances it with his knowledge of hypnotism and cult processes.
    • Glamour Failure: In Noir, the unicorn Apollo's magnetism, and even his physical state, is completely tarnished when the horn is cut off.
  • Grand Finale: Force Majeure is this, bordering on both Bittersweet Ending and Earn Your Happy Ending as well.
    • On the "Happy" side of things, while all of LeBrock's enemiesnote  are finally dead and the deaths of both his father & wife have been avenged, he's also been made an honorary member of the Kalaharis clan, and set to marry his fiancé Billie in Paris, while France is finally set to become a Socialist Republic following the deaths of Emperor Napoleon XII & his cabal, along with various threats to not only the Revolutionary Council. but the State as wellnote 
    • On the "Bitter" side of things however, Billie still had a miscarriage thanks to the beating which Koenig give her, and the "doughfaces" are still without any rights in France.
  • Guns Akimbo: LeBrock wields guns in the comic like this. This is also apparent in the Grandville cover.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: André Pegasus.
  • The Hero and the Sidekick: Archie LeBrock and Roderick Ratzi. Chance Lucas the human Pinkerton agent temporarily takes this role in Noel.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: LeBrock undergoes one at the beginning of Grandville Mon Amour, following the death of Sarah.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Billie from Noel.
  • Humanoid Female Animal: Surprisingly averted, as the male and female animal people have the same level of anthropomorphism.
    • Though most of the female animals have human-style head hair, which all but two males animals lack...and those are a lion (his mane) and a hyena (who may have just slicked down his fur, from the looks of things).
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Prime Minister Drummond claims this in the second volume
  • Idiot Ball: Drummond shooting two police officers in wide view of public. He himself admits that it was stupid and that he panicked.
  • Immune to Mind Control: Billie looks directly at Apollo, defined as having extreme charisma or able to enact More Than Mind Control by looking someone in the eye, and is hardly affected by it.
  • It's Personal: Chance Lucas, the Pinkerton agent from Noel, is not following cult leader Apollo because of the Pinkertons, but because his daughter was killed in the mass suicide before he fled for France. He gets his revenge not by shooting Apollo, but by killing Elvis Yorkshire.
  • Like Reality Unless Noted: Throughout the series, we saw plenty of Christian churches and clergy. What we didn't see was that the deity worshiped in the Grandville universe isn't God as we know it. It's Noah. As far as everyone believed, Noah's Arc was the beginning. Though a single complete version of Genesis in Hebrew exists.
  • Lions And Tigers And Humans And Robots Oh My
  • The Man Behind the Man: Quite a few villains throughout the series are revealed to work for or be patsies of someone else:
    • None of the Knights of the Lion are the main villains, as they were doing it for Napoleon.
    • Mastock's prison break in the second book was orchestrated by LeBrock's boss, Brigadier Belier. Belier in turn, did that on behalf of Prime Minister Drummond who wanted to cover up his involvement in a massacre during the British rebellion.
    • Charismatic cult leader Apollo from the fourth book is revealed to be a mere pawn for his Conman mentor, Elvis Yorkshire. While Elvis did not plan Apollo getting consumed by messiah complex or the movement turning political, he kept playing him to remain on top all the while pretending to be a frail old drunken man.
  • Mature Animal Story
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The nature of Apollo's magnetism straddles the two lines. Yorkshire admits that he taught Apollo about hypnotism and manipulation techniques but suggests that this only complemented his innate powers as a unicorn. Many characters insist unicorns are innately magical and magnetic and Apollo's ability to compel crowds just by appearing before them seems to support that. It's lost when LeBrock cuts off his horn with a hacksaw.
  • Mook Lieutenant: Tiberius Koenig has several, including his own brothers, Agrippa, Gaius, & Quintilianus, as well as Lois & Mister Croc.
  • More Than Mind Control: Even after Apollo's hold over the masses is broken and everyone can see him for what he really is, Bunty admits that she is still in love with him. In the end, she is the only one at his side as he dies.
  • Mr. Exposition: Chance has two moments in Noir, once while explaining Apollo's past and a second time explaining how cult indoctrination works.
  • Mundane Utility: Woe to anyone who tries to bind LeBrock with ropes; he can chew his way out.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: The Popular Unity Party in Noel, complete with swastikas.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish": One henchman reveals that this is the password to use for any of Koenig's men, if they want to enter the L'EnferTranslation  bar and lounge during its opening hours
  • Permanent Elected Official: The founder of the Socialist Republic of Britain and it's first Prime Minister is due to become this during the second book. Despite his respect for the Prime Minister, LeBrock disapproves the move, believing that it is the first step to becoming a People's Republic of Tyranny. In the end, he doesn't make it, having been revealed to have collaborated with Britain's former French military governor to massacre all of the other resistance leaders, and subsequently thrown off a building by LeBrock.
  • Petting Zoo People: Moreso even than usual, as the "animals" turn out to have animal heads on 100% human, furless, tail-less bodies. They occasionally do their bestial reactions, but generally they belong to this category.
  • Powder Keg Crowd: Taking place in a period of political upheaval, the books have a protest as a setpiece at least Once an Episode. Sometimes, they turn violent.
    • In the third book, a pro-human rally is marching in central Paris when LeBrock and Ratzi bump into the killer they've been looking for. A firefight breaks out, leading to a stampede.
    • In the fourth book, an anti-human rally happens across a group of human terrorists who were planning to bomb the rally but were interrupted before they could enact their plan. The crowd correctly deduces their intentions, the humans panic and open fire and things just get worse from there.
    • After LeBrock and Chance cut off his horn and prevent his hypnosis/magnetism, Apollo's followers who came to see him immediately see him as a liar and a fraud and turn on him. We don't see what they do, but it looks as gory as the other deaths in the series.
    • Happens in the fifth book, when the Kalaharis clan charge into what remains of Koenig's club, with the intention of finishing what LeBrock started.
  • The Purge: Force Majeure features one near the end when Detective-Inspector LeBrock nearly single-handedly takes on Tiberius Koenig, his surviving "Generals" and all the Paris mob bosses that are affiliated with him, as well as the remnants of his criminal organisation, with the help of the Kalaharis clan.
  • La Résistance: The English Resistance came in both varieties. There was the more mainstream anarchist/socialist forces (of which both LeBrock and his father were members), and then there were the Angry Brigade, who were vicious anti-French terrorists. Both sides have a notable distaste for each other
  • Shirtless Scene: LeBrock hides in a steam bath, going nude with only a towel covering him. Also with Coco.
  • Shout-Out
  • The Sixth Ranger: Billie and Rocher.
  • The Smart Guy: Ratzi.
  • Socialist Realism: The mural commissioned by the French Revolutionary Council in "Bête Noire" is this.
  • The Sociopath: The main big bads of the final three booksnote  would certainly qualify, as would Edward "Mad Dog" Mastock from Mon Amour.
  • Sociopathic Hero: LeBrock is capable of horrific brutality, even if all his targets are Asshole Victims. Just ask the Archbishop.
  • Species Surname: Very common, though some are subtler than others;
    • French Prime Minister Lapine has the bonus of having a name that relates to rabbits (which he is) and the French nationalist politician Jean-Marie Le Pen (which Lapine also is).
    • "Brock" itself is an archaic English word for a badger.
    • The name of the mob boss Tiberius Koenig is a truly masterful application of this trope. Tiberius comes from Roman Emperor Tiberius who was noted to be a tyrannical ruler by historians. Koenig means "king". And of course, he is a Tyrannosaurus Rex (literally, "Tyrant King").
  • Starving Artist: The Artists at "The Agile Rabbit" in "Bête Noire" lament about being this. It's soon revealed that they are merely without comissions at the moment, hinting that they're not as badly off as they like to portray themselves being.
  • Steam Punk
  • Stiff Upper Lip: Both Ratzi and LeBrock have this in spades. In the second book, Ratzi is mugged by two human street toughs and is only mildly annoyed, even when they try to stab him in the back!
  • Sword Cane: Both. LeBrock uses the standard sword-in-cane while Ratzi uses the cane-that-shoots-bullets version. Elvis Yorkshire nearly shoots LeBrock with one at the end of Noel.
  • Temporary Love Interest: Sarah from the first book.
  • These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: Christianity in Grandville believes that the world began with Noah and the flood, and the actual species of Jesus Christ is not known. LeBrock finds out over the course of Noel both that a single copy of the entire Bible including the first six chapters of Genesis exists and that Jesus Christ was a human "doughface". The nun who translates this for him doesn't even want it for posterity's sake because it could upset the already tenuous balance of religion in this universe and gives it to LeBrock effectively to dispose of it. LeBrock ends up burning it in a fireplace.
  • Torture Always Works: Or at least usually works. Archie tortures everyone he captures in Book 1, and gets results based on how much they know. If they know a lot he gets complete, accurate information in minutes.
  • Translation Convention: As France had ruled England for a few hundred years in the history of this world, every character is actually speaking French (which leads to some French idioms being directly translated to English). Early on the first book Ratzi asks what the weird language some country folk are speaking in, only to be told they're speaking English.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: It receives a passing mention but otherwise, there is very little in the second book to indicate that mere three weeks ago France suffered a revolution after the French Emperor and his Government were practically wiped out in a bloody attack.
  • You Dirty Rat!: Inverted with Detective Ratzi.
  • Zeppelins from Another World: Goes without saying really.

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