Review by Frank Plowright
Creators Leo (Luiz Eduardo de Oliveira) and Rodolphe (Jacquette) have a successful European track record as creators dating back to the early 1990s, but anyone only familiar with what’s been translated to date by Cinebook will find Trent surprising. It’s not the X-Files mysteries of Kenya or Nambia, nor the utopian science fiction of Leo’s solo work beginning with Aldebaran, but melancholic 19th century period drama concentrating on Philip Trent, Royal Canadian Mountain Policeman. He patrols the inhospitable wilds of Canadian mining territories in the Yukon, a solitary life accompanied only by his dog.
The feeling of remoteness, both geographical and personal, is deliberately cultivated, Rodolphe writing about a man who’s removed himself from society and Leo drawing him enveloped by nature, although only infrequently at a distance. It’s nice to see Leo’s work presented at the larger European album size, and interesting that his early work lacks the stiffly posed people he’d later develop, although there are hints. He’s already working very well with expressions telling part of the story, creates a distinctive cast, and as shown on the sample page, Leo’s facility for drawing lifelike animals is advanced.
Trent is presented as a fractured man, honourable and dedicated, but a Mountie in order to remove himself from the world. His reason for doing so is explained without being laid out in detail, keeping a mystique about a man about whom almost as much is revealed by his dreams as his day to day life. It accumulates for an effective downbeat mood, barely lightened by the presence of an attractive woman tagging along for most of the story. Trent drags his past around with him, and his reflective nature doesn’t enable him to let it loose. His mission is to track down a murderer, and while a twist near the end isn’t exactly telegraphed, neither will it greatly surprise regular readers of crime dramas.
That, however, isn’t the point. Let yourself be sucked in by Trent’s solitary gloom, and The Dead Man is clever title and a satisfying read. The Kid is next.