Vidocq: The suicide of Notre-Dame - BD

You like them polards nineteenth century? Thehugolian universe of Miserable inspires you? Then you will certainly like this new series which invites us to follow the investigations of the famous Vidocq and the Security Brigade in the capital of the Napoleonic Empire. When a former convict leads the hunt in the shallows of the City of Lights, all you have to do is follow without losing breath the dry click of the inspector's boots on the cobblestones of the banks of the Seine ... you are in the footsteps of " Police napoleon » !

A dynamic scenario in a hugolian universe

Paris 1813, in the Napoleonic capital, a former convict is at the head of an atypical team to track down the thugs of the lowlands. This man who infiltrates the underworld with ease is of course Vidocq, at the head of the security brigade! In this first volume of the series, Vidocq is dispatched to observe the suicide of a man in front of the altar of Notre-Dame on which he leaves a letter (the recent suicide of Dominique Verner, under similar conditions, would he have inspired screenwriter ?). A certain Baron Louis de Saint-Romain ... Or not ... Vidocq is certain, he has already seen this man and this title of baron is usurped! The start of a thrilling investigation which is reminiscent of the real affair of the Count of Pontis of Saint Helena!

We won't reveal the story further here, leaving it to the reader to enjoy it, but would like to point out a well-run scenario that keeps the reader in suspense! The use of slang (with the definition in the footnote of course) completes the immersion. From the quai des orfèvres to the ill-famed quarters, we discover a Paris of the beginning of the 19th century which is not unlike that of the Miserable Hugo ... And besides, the screenwriter directly winks at this universe by making young Javert an important secondary character. Return to sender could we say since Victor Hugo himself would perhaps have been inspired by Vidocq to create his character of Jean Valjean! A close mix between history, legend and literature which may be of interest to students preparing for the CAPLP Letter-History and having to work on “History and fiction”.

Realistic graphics ... but ...

The design is realistic and allows a complete immersion in the Paris of the 19th century. From the blood of the guillotine, the back butcher shops and the dissection rooms, even in the beautiful offices of the Prefecture of Police, we follow the determined march of the charismatic Vidocq!

The design is neat and even the weapons are the subject of relatively detailed work. Yes, but there is a "but" ... There is a little something missing from these weapon designs, a little something which makes all the difference and which shocks the view: all these flintlock weapons have no flint! We recall that it is the flint which makes the spark by falling on the battery to ignite the powder of the basin which transmits the flame by the light in order to allow the explosion of the charge in the chamber and the expulsion of the bullet through the barrel. Without flint, these weapons are harmless which suddenly makes the vociferating Vidocq lose credibility, the whore with her little pistol under the lace, the bandits or even the Napoleonic soldiers ... Even the introductory suicide could not have taken place. in reality ... Unfortunately this error is found everywhere, punctuating the comic strip with small exasperations for the enthusiast of the period. Even on the cover, Vidocq takes a determined posture in front of the gallery of the kings of Notre-Dame but with a year XIII of cavalry rendered harmless ... A detail certainly, but which suggests that the armament represented, and more broadly the universe vidocquien, are not yet perfectly mastered. A small detail heavy with consequence, but there is no doubt that this point will be corrected in the next volume.

Other elements are not very historic, such as the gallery of kings (taken up in close-up on the cover too ...) including the statues, destroyed during the Revolution and redone during the Viollet-le-Duc construction site from from 1843, should not be there in 1813. Or the infantrymen of the 126th of the Line represented with the bear hat plates of the Grenadiers on foot of the Imperial Guard.

Drawing by PA. on Graphistoire.

Our opinion

In addition to this problem of flint, let us recognize that the Vidocq saga promises to be fascinating and immersive, evolving in a romantic universe bathed in the 19th century Paris. We also welcome the presence at the end of the book of a biographical note on Vidocq (which would nevertheless deserve a bibliography to justify certain statements) allowing the reader enthusiastic about reading this adventure to perfect his historical culture and to be able to disentangle History of fiction. A good initiative for historical popularization!