Friday, October 21, 2011

Review: Baggage by The Etherington Brothers

I reviewed the previous volume from Robin and Lorenzo Etherington almost exactly a year ago. Back then, I praised their work on Monkey Nuts as pacy, funny and deserving a place on your shelves. Well, if you took my advice, you'll know what to expect from their latest collaboration.

Like Monkey Nuts' Sid and Rivet, Baggage also has a pair of accident-prone, unlikely but likeable heroes. Randall is a much put-upon employee of the lost luggage department of Triptych City's tram station, ruled over by grumpy boss Bronco Lutz. Bawled out for taking a rhino out for a drink and leaving him to destroy the stalls in the concourse of the station, it looks like Randall might be about to lose his job. Not that he's too sure what his job actually is: in five years of employment he has failed to return even one piece of lost luggage to its rightful owner. "I thought I was just supposed to keep all the bags safe and warm at night!" Randall replies.

Sent out to find and return to its owner the oldest piece of lost property, Randall (literally) bumps into Taw, Triptych City's answer to Del-boy, and the two set off at high speed, following clues on the suitcase and followed by a growing crowd of irate citizens (and a rhino) whose paths they cross. The chaotic journey takes Randall to Ruby Bee's sweet shop, the Bridge of Abodes, Mini Mica's Floating Duck milkshake stall, the Wow! shop for collectors, a dustbin, a garbage barge and many more exotic locations.

Lorenzo's artwork is jam-packed with intricate design and detail; it's a book that will pay re-reading because there's a lot going on in the background that you may miss first time round. The story races along, although I'm sure I detect a structure to the storytelling that means the story could be broken down into four-page episodes for serialisation. Not that it interferes with the enjoyment of reading the tale in all its 52-page glory; it builds up to a satisfying climax as the clock ticks - Randall has only one day to find the owner or he'll lose his job - and others - Taw, Mica and fanatical collector Kong - are dragged into the chaos that Randall leaves in his wake.

With all the energy of an animated cartoon, Baggage has enough craziness to entertain even the most hyperactive kid. You shouldn't have any problem getting them to settle down and read for a change.

Baggage by The Etherington Brothers. David Fickling Books (DFC Library) ISBN 978-0385618571, 6 October 2011, 64pp, £9.99. [£6.99 from Amazon]

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