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By Brandy DykhuizenAnd we’re back with Trine Hampstead, the all-knowing, adequately powerful, cool-as-a-cucumber street detective, chilling to the sounds of other people’s thoughts on the tube like they were her main jams on her favorite iTunes mix. Trine’s been dealt a bit of a backwards hand, fixed in the same place while simultaneously existing in a thousand points around her. Every conversation and thought drags her in. Trine does love a puzzle.

In between mystery and adventure, Paul Tobin’s Trine serves as a counterbalance to our tendencies to project and over-complicate our problems. Some of the “mysteries” for which Trine’s advice is solicited are mysteries only to the common sense-impaired: A young man wonders why he got fired even though he is consistently tardy; a woman can’t believe she got dumped until she learns her boyfriend discovered her secret stash of sexy pictures with another dude. These are hardly mysteries, but rather indications of how easily we humans get mired in our own selfish rabbit holes and lose sight of the forest for the trees.

We finally get a proper roar out of our normally diplomatic Trine, when she confronts the sociopathic Linford in the Kit Kat Club, where she had come to warn her stripper friend Sasha of his dangers. A douse of liquid courage leaves her trigger happy enough to blast Linford in the shoulder at close range. This must amount to nothing more than a warning shot, and she will surely regret not following through with a fatal blow once he catches up to her in Siberia. After his boss discovers their documents are incomplete and that Trine is necessary to their thievery, Linford goes the extra mile to make it clear he has all her friends quite literally in his sights. All the way in Siberia, Trine must slip back into the role of a caged bird, yet there is little doubt she will somehow prevail.

More suspension of disbelief might be required to accept Trine standing in the middle of the Norilsk square, travel coat on and bags in hand, than is necessary to imagine mammoths and saber tooth tigers alive and well in Siberia. As one of Russia’s “closed” cities, foreigners are not granted access to travel within its borders. However, I’m okay with bypassing that little discrepancy if it means more phrases like “wiener-hazardous cold,” and “I feel like I’m going reverse cowboy on a snowman.

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One of the subtler but most enjoyable aspects of this comic is Alberto Alburquerque’s depiction of daily life in London. From tourists snapping pictures of Big Ben, to cyclists inexplicably giving a lady and small child the “V” sign, to a couple snapping a selfie at Heathrow, the background panels frequently look like tongue-in-cheek London postcards. Even the conversation between Ken and his coworker contains the daft-yet-clever banter between two constables on a coffee break we’ve seen in countless British comedies (Monty Python, The Young Ones, etc.). Many aspects of Alburquerque’s style are laudable, not least of all the intentional grotesqueness of his characters faces, but that little bit of running social commentary is tops.

There are a couple trifling questions hanging in the air (Norilsk access aside): 1) What happened to Dr. Ghislain, and why hasn’t there been a single mention of the woman who convinced Trine to go to Siberia, and 2) Why does Tobin describe the locations of his characters so precisely (“200 blocks away”) in some frames and so ambiguously (“Elsewhere”) in others? It’s possible not all mysteries will be solved, but I remain hooked at least until Mystery Girl‘s mammoth reveal.

Dark Horse Comics/$3.99

Written by Paul Tobin.

Art by Alberto J. Alburquerque.

Colors by Marissa Louise.

Letters by Marshall Dillon.

7 out of 10

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