Swordplay, revenge, lust, and the origin story of sexy assassin and monster Alexandra are reasons enough to compel you to add the graphic novel Dungeon: Heartbreaker (Monstres, Volume 3) to your reading lists, if you’re a fan of the highly popular Dungeon series or just like great graphic novels, in general. The Dungeon series is not told chronologically, but that is no hindrance to enjoying these wonderfully woven tales featuring anthropomorphic animals and monsters as its stars.
The first story, “Heartbreaker,” (written by Joan Sfar and Lewis Trondheim, illustrated by guest artist Carlos Nine from Argentina) which also contains a brief appearance by Hyacinthe, the head of the Assassins’ Guild, with whom Alexandra later falls in love with (he’s married in this volume, though she’s still crushing on him). There’s also an added bonus: the beautifully drawn tale “The Depths,” illustrated by guest artist Patrice Killoffer. Both stories focus on female characters. Don’t worry, though, guys - this isn’t a “chick lit” graphic novel. There’s plenty of action, and both stories have great plots you can sink your teeth into.
If you’re a fan of the series and have been wondering about the origins of the snake-lady Alexandra and of her budding romantic feelings toward Hyacinthe, then all (or most) of your questions will be answered in this volume. “Heartbreaker” illustrator Carlos Nine is a terrific artist, and it’s nice to see his take on the character of Alexandra. She wasn’t born a criminal or an assassin, but she sympathized with them and liked certain aspects of their lifestyles that set them apart from most humans. She is led into the life of an assassin by her past and by a rape that she suffers - and the job pays well. The scenes where she is captured and chained by her former beau, Michael, and his henchmen in a dungeon flooded with foul, polluted water are illustrated very nicely, and Hyacinthe’s wife’s reaction to her after Alexandra escapes is delightfully spiteful and hateful.
“The Depths” is a unique but very cool story that one would not expect to see in a Dungeon volume because it doesn’t have anything to do with the Dungeon plots, subplots, or mythos. It’s about a princessy little blue-skinned girl, Drowny, who lives under the sea and whose head is shaped sort of like an octupuses’, all elongated out. She is the teen daughter of a Bathyist priest (A political statement, or just a play on words? I’m not entirely sure, but whichever opinion you might subscribe to, it doesn’t take away from how much you will like this story). After cruel soldiers working for the Grand Khan slaughter her mother and father, she has to grow up in an awful hurry. She dons the battle gear of one of the creatures who broke into her bedroom and would have killed her if her pet fish hadn’t killed him first. The other strange military creatures are not the most intelligent beings in the seas and mistake her for their comrade, Ballsy, who happens to be of the same species.
Drowny doesn’t want her best friend, Mellowy (whom she talks to on a kind of cell phone equivalent at the start of the story) or any of the other Bathyists to get hurt or killed. There’s not much she can do, though - at least at first - to prevent this. She has to keep up her act, show her skills in battle and strategy, and earn the trust of the Grand Khan and her fellow warriors before she can put any plan into action to save Mellowy and the other Bathyists. But, what does she have to do to get fully accepted by her enemies? Will it mean causing the deaths of some Bathyists in order to save the rest?
Her adventures within the enemy camp and her rise to power make for a great story. “The Depths” rounds out Dungeon: Heartbreaker (Monstres, Volume 3) and complements the volume quite well. Even if you’ve never read the first two volumes, you won’t feel lost or overly confused, as this can be read as a stand-alone book. I highly recommend this addition to the Dungeon series.