Friday, November 14, 2014

Review - Django/Zorro #1

" really remind me of someone I used to know."

The power of a symbol is awe-inspiring. It can inspire hope in those who view it. It can evoke fear in those who come across it. While a sword-etched "Z" is certainly recognizable to many, there's really not much in the way of a "D" symbol that offers up the same associations. If Django/Zorro #1 from Dynamite Entertainment has its way, Django won't need a D...he'll just "borrow" the Z. The issue is written by Quentin Tarantino and Matt Wagner, illustrated by Esteve Polls, colored by Brennan Wagner and lettered by Simon Bowland.

Set several years after the events of Django Unchained, Django is again pursuing the evil that men do in his role as a bounty hunter. Since there’s a warrant on his head back east, he’s mainly been plying his trade in the western states. After safely settling his wife, Broomhilda, near Chicago, he’s again taken to the road, sending her funds whenever he completes a job. It’s by sheer chance that he encounters the aged and sophisticated Diego de la Vega – the famed Zorro – and soon finds himself fascinated by this unusual character, the first wealthy white man he’s ever met who seems totally unconcerned with the color of Django’s skin…and who can hold his own in a fight. He hires on as Diego’s “bodyguard” for one adventure and is soon drawn into a fight to free the local indigenous people from a brutal servitude, discovering that slavery isn’t exclusive to black folks. In the course of this adventure, he learns much from the older man (much like King Schultz) and, on several occasions, even dons the mask and the whip of The Fox.

If there's one thing Tarantino knows (and for sure he knows many) it's offering up characters who are extremely interesting in their own way. Django is no exception and pairing him with Zorro (and Tarantino with Wagner) leads to a script that boasts extremely witty and engaging dialogue. It's clear from the start that both Django and Diego suspect the other is more than they're letting on, but there's also a certain trust fostered between the two that doesn't jeopardize their impending partnership. In fact, it's almost as if there's a changing of the guard when it comes to stopping evil from prevailing, as the older Diego gives way to the younger Django. Granted, this isn't to say that Django will end up being the next Zorro, but it does offer a very explosive dynamic between the two that's further amplified by their similar ideals and approaches.

While the writers definitely nail the tone of a meet-up between the two legends, Polls offers up a look that's every bit as satisfying. Characters exhibit a rough and tumble nature that comes with life on the frontier, while still maintaining some of their more recognizable characteristics. He handles the gunfights very well, focusing on the shooters in ways that make them feel kinetic and in the midst of action. Details definitely cascade from front to back, with characters and objects in the forefront getting the most attention, while landscapes in the background get less. Brennan Wagner relies on a series of dark colors for the book that give it a grittiness that works, even if there are a few times where it's a little too dark to quickly discern who or what is going on.

Django/Zorro #1 is every bit the team-up you would expect it to be based on the caliber and popularity of the two characters involved. The two characters share views of justice that prompt them to risk their lives in an effort to enforce those views, which makes for an extremely gratifying and entertaining rapport. Tarantino and Wagner know the characters and what makes them so appealing, ensuring that all of their charms work in tandem to further the story. Polls' illustrations have the right amount of dinginess to them that reminds the reader things aren't exactly safe in the wild west Django/Zorro #1 will appeal to fans of either leading character or westerns in particular where a vigilante takes it upon him (or her) self to save the day.

Django/Zorro #1 is available now with interiors below.


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