Sfar and Trondheim’s 14th entry in the Dungeon series, Monstres, Volume 4 (subtitled Night of the Ladykiller), might be the best one yet. It is called volume 4 because it is the fourth
Dungeon graphic novel to feature secondary characters from the French comic. The title story, “Night of the Ladykiller,” is primarily about what happens when Horus - a vulture sorcerer/necromancer and student learning more about the mystical arts - is accused by numerous female animals of impregnating them. This seems quite unlike how he generally behaves, and he puzzles over why the women are accusing him. The second story, “Ruckus at the Brewers,” features the silly-looking (and rather simple-minded) monster Grogro. Grogro loves to eat rabbits and drink beer, and he gets the chance to do both on the first mission he’s ever been entrusted with: to pick up barrels of beer from a bunch of rabbit beer brewers. It’s a cool, funny storythat rounds out this graphic novel nicely.
“Night of the LadyKiller” is a great addition to the Dungeon canon both because it’s a really good tale about Horus and because it provides history about the duck (I guess that’s what he is) Hyacinth, who later becomes the Dungeon Master and has had many adventures documented in previous volumes of the Dungeon series. It also shows us what the dungeon looked like when it was merely a castle owned by Hyacinth’s father. Even then, certain rooms of the castle contained monsters. One of Hyacinth’s friends, Alcibiades (who is a friend of Horus’s as well), is also featured in the story.
As the story opens, a cobra-man, dolphin-man, rat-man, Horus, and others are in a room dissecting cadavers. While they do so, they talk about a huge brutish-looking boar-man, Tristan, whose father runs the morgue they’re working in. Tristan’s father wants his son to “sit his exams,” and he’s made a deal with the students that he will look the other way and allow them to steal the cadavers in return for their teaching his imbecilic son. An eagle tells Horus, “He lets us steal cadavers on the condition that his son passes his exams this year.”
Horus threatens to rat on them to the university unless they allow his friend Alcibiades, a tall, slender, white-headed duck, to also be trained. The others agree but then palm off the education of Tristan onto Alcibiades, telling him, “If he fails, you’re out of here.” By attempting to help his friend, Horus actually gets Alcibiades into a seemingly impossible jam. If he can’t succeed in teaching Tristan, who doesn’t even know how to read, then Alcibiades will lose his chance to become a necromancer.
In the main part of the story, animal women start accusing Horus of impregnating them (depictions of nudity, the buxom female animals drawn with human bodies, probably render this not suitable for younger audiences; the artwork is really cool, though, reminding me of the X-rated cartoon Fritz the Cat). Another person is possessing Horus’ body through hypnotism, but who? Who would want to try to ruin his reputation, and why?
“Ruckus at the Brewers” centers on Grogro, a lummox who sort of resembles a muppet. He’s so idiotic that as he’s flying on the back of a pterodactyl-like bird and grows hungry, he begins to eat the bird’s wings. Of course, Grogro crashes to the ground, and he asks a knight for directions. The knight is a goofball, also, and joins him on his quest, believing Grogro to be a heroic figure.
The knight tells Grogro that the rabbits in the city they’re traveling towards are rude and nasty to visitors to their city and might spit on them, curse them, and throw vegetables at them. When they arrive, however, the first rabbit to greet them acts as if they’re the city’s saviors, erroneously believing they have arrived to kill the devil, who is stalking their fair city. Grogro’s
and the knight’s quest then shifts to killing or otherwise getting rid of the
devil in order to acquire the kegs of beer. Their stumbling, bumbling antics and eventual success in ridding the city of the devil rabbit makes for a highly entertaining story.
Night of the Ladykiller is another page-turning masterpiece from Sfar and Trondheim, and guest artists Jean-Emmanuel Vermot-Desproches and Yoann do an awesome job of bringing the characters to life for the reader. Both those new to the series and longtime fans will get a kick out of this great graphic novel.