Thursday, March 6, 2008

Top of the Stack - Zorro #1

One of my all-time favorite comic creators ever is Matt Wagner. One of my favorite "up and coming" artists is Francesco Francavilla. I love dark, swashbuckling, adventurous characters with history. So when it was announced a few months ago that Dynamite Entertainment was releasing a Zorro comic written by Wagner with art by Francavilla, the question was not would I buy it, but how in the world could it live up to my expectations?

Zorro #1 is a fine read. The love that both Wagner and Francavilla share for the character is very evident. While I find many first issues these days are mere teasers with no real substance, this creative team gave me my money's worth. We do get the build-up of the main character by a soldier who manages to survive the encounter to report back to his superior, "It was a demon that faced us this night! A devil from hell, I tell you." It's something we've seen a million times before, but just because I've had pizza countless times in my life does not mean I never want to eat it again. I do indeed, so long as said pizza is good and tasty! Likewise, Wagner tells the tale with a wink and a nod to serials of the past, yet with a fresh look at the characterizations of the participants. The end of the issue is no surprise (especially if you are at all familiar with Zorro), but it is all the more thrilling to see it unfold. Mixed throughout, we are given insights to the folks who shaped our hero, including his mother who is portrayed here in more depth than I have ever read before.

Francavilla does the material justice. I was able to see the pages in black and white when I saw Francesco at last month's Atlanta Comics Expo, and even without the dialog and captions I was easily able to follow the story. To be honest, I was concerned about the final product as I've not always liked seeing his pages in color. However, Adriano Lucas of Impacto Studios did an excellent job enhancing the atmosphere I saw in the original pages and giving the book an authentically classic feel.

Of course, it is much too early to judge this series by the first issue as like most #1's, it is mostly setting the table for things to come. However, this appetizer made me hungry for more, and I eagerly await the next course!

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