Page 45 Review by Stephen
Please don't judge this book by its cover.
Glowing and graceful, frantic and thrilling, this explosive, Arctic, fight-for-your-life from the creators of LOVE VOL 1: THE TIGER features a far wider cast of land and sea creatures than you might initially suspect.
"Don't judge a book by its cover" is obviously a metaphorical aphorism / admonition / exhortation advising you against judging an entity's innate worth by its outward appearance. But it's based on the literal, literary observation that an illustration doesn't necessarily reflect the quality nor nature of the written word within.
It was coined long before the invention of graphic novels which, given that comics is a visual medium, I believe you should be able to judge to some substantial degree by their covers. Unless, you know, some corporation sticks a completely different artist on the front, which I consider false advertising.
It won't tell you anything by the artist's ability to tell a story in a sequence of panels, but it should at least reflect the quality of the art within. This one doesn't. It's okay, but every single image inside is infinitely more impressive.
Bertolucci's criss-cross relay race of predators and prey is flawlessly choreographed like an aerial, mountain-bound and subaquatic ballet as the hunters soar, swoop, dip and dive, some rediscovering a little too late that they're not where they thought on the food chain. Timing is everything when you're hunting for food and Bertolucci's timing is sharper on one occasion than that of the sea lion which has its eyes on a prize but not on the sea's centre-forwards.
A whale and its calf are harried by Orcas seeking to dislodge the vulnerable one from its poor mother's back; Northern Gannets plunge from the skies en masse for fish; a Kodiak encounters a Polar Bear as, all the while, our titular fox - very much aware of its limitations - ducks and dives and cowers as required in order to survive not just the weightier, more ferocious beasts but also the island itself.
An avalanche is one thing, but Brrémaud has added an extra element of urgency which sets the clock ticking and it will take all the energy and agility of the fox to avoid traps - like the pitfall a porcupine succumbs to - in order to get where she needs in time.
The landscapes are as majestic as LOVE VOL 1: THE TIGER's with fiery autumn leaves, hard ice and soft snow, while below the ocean's surface it's truly chilling. One false step and anything could end up in there, where the glossy, inky-blue-black of Killer Whales' skin and those terrifying white patches behind their eyes may the last thing an animal ever sees.