The DFC Library returns with the first of its third tranche of titles, and the first one that wasn't in the weekly DFC - Baggage by writer Robin Etherington and artist Lorenzo Etherington.
Randall is the lackadaisical, and somewhat disaster-prone, lost property officer for the tram service of Triptych City. After his latest disaster with a rhino, his boss, the perennially grumpy Bronco Lutz, offers him a last chance to keep his job by finding the owner of the oldest piece of lost property in the company's enormous warehouse.
Just about surviving the collapse of the enormous pile of lost luggage, Randall takes the small, old and apparently very well travelled suitcase on a quest around the city in his desperate attempts to find its owner. Using the clues on the suitcase in the form of travel stickers, Randal search becomes more and more frantic as it goes along.
Along the way he picks up his good hearted friend Taw, the sensible Mica and the nerdy collector Kong as his quest staggers from one calamity to another and the companions end up being chased by an ever growing mob of disgruntled people. Will they find the owner of the suitcase before the day ends or will the mob get to them first?
One word best fits the Etherington Brothers work, be it the writing or the art, and that is 'manic'. Robin's writing is so off the wall that the plot is never going to be predictable or even, for that matter, straightforward. But that is to the book's benefit as what could have been a simple quest storyline swerves constantly between increasingly bizarre situations. Lorenzo's artwork is beautiful, dynamic when it needs to be and intensely detailed in the quieter sections as the mainly feline characters work their way around the city.
The Etherington's previous DFC Library title, Monkey Nuts, worked well in the weekly comic but suffered somewhat as a book due to the constant action required of a short weekly humour strip which made it something of an exhausting read. Baggage gets over this problem as the action is not as intensely constant, although Monkey Nuts fans will enjoy spotting the in-jokes in Baggage that hark back to the previous title.
Baggage is a visual delight that works just as well for adults as it does for children. With Christmas coming up this is one book that could just as easily be on your own 'wants' list as well as being on the list of presents to be given out to others.
• There are more details of Baggage on the David Fickling Books website and the Etherington Brothers blog.