As I wrote in a post about the five-year anniversary of NBM publishing Sfar and Trondheim's amazing Dungeon series, the first volume in their "The Early Years" plotline explored "The Keeper’s idealistic early years...in this story of Machiavellian intrigue and betrayal. The Keeper becomes a kind of would-be super hero, defending justice in the city, only to come up against hard truths. One of the most complex tales in the series, morally ambiguous and at times heart-breaking." Now, in the newly released Volume 2, "Innocence Lost," the Keeper gets his heart's desire, in the form of a deadly catwoman assassin, Alexandra, only to find the situation more ambiguous than expected--and more dangerous. His rescue of Alexandra initiates their romance, but the Keeper soon finds himself in other relationships, entering into a period of debauchery. In the second half of the book, the Keeper is married and miserable until Alexandra re-enters his life.
One thing I like about "The Early Years" is that Sfar and Trondheim, through the art of Blain, give this story thread a very different look-and-feel. The art is darker, deliberately less detailed, moodier, and more evocative. As ever, in terms of story, Dungeon remains a series for adults, juxtaposing quests and adventure with the mundane events of daily life--most familiar to readers past their early twenties. Dungeon's both magical and down-to-earth in that respect, and much of even the darker comedy comes from the absurd clash between these two elements. "The Early Years," with some amazing phantasmagorical scenes wedded to complex moral situations, manages to entertain and provide yet another thought-provoking installment in what may well be the best epic fantasy series of all time.