Zorro: The Defeat By Destiny – Comic Review
- Written By Sorab Del Rio
- Artist: Emerson Dimaya
- Letterer: Don Ticchio
- Published by Silver Fox Comics
Is there a self-respecting geek alive who doesn’t know of the legend of Zorro? One of the earliest pulp hero vigilante characters, the masked avenger known as ‘Zorro’, was created back in 1919 by a New York author named Johnston McCulley. Zorro lived in the Spanish colonial era of California, and with the aid of his swift rapier and his mighty black steed ‘Tornado’, he battled evil governors and corrupt captains in defense of the good peasant folk in the name of justice and decency and all that stuff. He owed a debt to the Scarlet Pimpernel for his double life (swanning about as hamfisted nobleman Diego de la Vega cunningly prevented folks identifying him with the notoriously athletic, co-ordinated and altogether sexy Zorro) but Zorro’s impact on pop culture has been far greater than poor old Percy Blakeney ever managed. Sixty-odd stories; umpteen movies, TV serials, comics, T-shirts, off-brand Mexican belly-churning candies… Zorro did it all. He also directly influenced characters like The Shadow, and of course, the Batman. Could you ask for more?
Well, yes: so it would seem. Silver Fox comics have just released a new line of Zorro comics, written by Aussie Sorab del Rio, and drawn by Emerson Dimaya. And happily, the lads have decided to have some serious fun with old Zorro, confronting him with another zed very popular of late: Zombies.
Yep. It’s Zorro versus the Walking Dead. How cool is that? Oh – and Zorro gets to use a samurai sword as well as his regular rapier. Excellent!
Dimaya’s art is the goods, as far as I’m concerned. It’s chunky and evocative, using black-and-white very effectively to create motion, action, tension and feeling. It’s got that mid-seventies horror comic feel to it – not polished, but strong, and effective. Given that zombies are the villain of the piece, I found the old-style ‘Vampirella’ atmosphere evoked by the art to be refreshing and very entertaining.
Del Rio’s storytelling, on the other hand – well, let’s see where it goes, shall we? The basic tale is fine: resurrection in the name of love, love twisted to madness, madness met with courage and naked steel in Zorro’s heroic hands. It’s the kind of story that played very well in those old 70s horror mags, or appeared as a back-up to the main title in a bumper ‘Jonah Hex’ or suchlike. But the retro angle is a dangerous line to take. Retro art and homages to the great, raw stuff that came out in the formative years of modern horror comics is one thing; retro writing and storytelling is quite likely another. The currency in modern comics runs to complex characters and storylines that arc across many issues — even years. Is it possible to break in with material so conscious of its roots?
It’s clear Del Rio is aware of the challenge. In ‘The Defeat by Destiny’ (the comic previewing the zombiefest ‘Love Never Ends’) he introduces a character who is certain to become a recurring villain, and suggests that future storylines could become more nuanced, less black-and-white (so to speak.) It’s a hopeful sign. On the other hand, before the comic can achieve a really professional level, they’re going to have to do something about their copy-editing. A good, close-reading editor would get rid of lines like “She smiled to herself, thinking of she had once hoped Diego and her would move from friendship to love,” or “We found a tear of his shirt with blood upon it.”
In similar vein, I found the very 70s-esque dialogue fairly unflattering. Again, it did feel very much of a piece with the art and the storytelling, so I certainly wouldn’t put the comic down as a result, but I’m not certain how long my interest would be sustained by this technique. It’s not quite Robin shouting “Holy shenanigans, Batman” amidst big, colourful Biff Bam Sound Effects, but it’s appeal lies very much in its ability to recall the golden oldies.
Will it reach a new generation of readers, to refresh the legend of Zorro once more? Dive in. Find out for yourself. The first couple of stories, at least, are definitely worth the effort.
Available fom Feb 2011 from www.silverfoxcomics.com.au
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