Review - Return of the Dapper Men

There are many literary classics that feature an imaginative world where things don't go according to reality. Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan all come to mind. What if the tone of those works was combined into one book AND it was a graphic novel? Return of the Dapper Men from Archaia seeks to fill that void through it's unique story and equally unique art style. The story is by Jim McCann and features art by Janet Lee (letters by Dave Lanphear and cover by Janet Lee and Todd Klein). What is Return of the Dapper Men you ask?

The world of Anorev is a world where time stands still...there's no tick or tock. The inhabitants -children and robots- of the world really just meander about with no real goal in sight. The dichotomy of inhabitants aren't in an equal opportunity world though: the robots live above ground while the children live underground. Enter Ayden and Zoe, seeking to turn that scenario upside down. Ayden is a human boy who chooses to live among the robots and is best friends with Zoe, a female robot. Their destiny together is something of a mystery until 314 dapper men fall from the sky. And then things get weird.

The entire graphic novel is something of an enigma. It seems to be a children's story encased by adult morals that we should all strive to live by. McCann's script reads very well and is simple enough to be digested by a child. I don't want to sell McCann's work short's phenomenal. My point is that I could easily see Return of the Dapper Men being a graphic novel that you would read to your kids as a bedtime story. Lee's art is simply astounding here though. She's never illustrated a comic before (I believe) and her style is exceptionally exquisite and unique. It really adds a sense of elegance to the entire graphic novel. The end of the book also has some stunning pin-ups and a "how to" process by Lee herself, detailing her approach to the art.

The aspect of Return of the Dapper Men that sticks with you after reading it is that it successfully encapsulates what it means to be a kid. It reminds you of all the allegories you grew up reading. They were fantastic reads but subtly taught you valuable lessons about life. Archaia has a great book on their hands in Return of the Dapper Men and I really can't recommend it enough, whether you're a young child with a robot friend or an adult who needs a reminder that even the innocence of childhood is fraught with grown-up decisions. Honestly, if you read Return of the Dapper Men and can't find anything to like about it I hope you read it again, if for nothing else to learn what you may have been missing in the first place.

Return of the Dapper Men was released in comic book shops on November 17, 2010, and everywhere else on December 7, 2010.