Review - Clandestino #1 (@blackmaskstudio)

"I have no name. They just call me...Clandestino."

Revolutions have a way of upending the status quo--for better or for worse. In the case of the American Revolution for instance, the American colonial settlers fought to be their own entity, which many (Americans at least) would argue for the better. In the case of Clandestino #1 from Dark Circle Comics though, revolutions don't always end so happily. The issue is written and illustrated by Amancay Nahuelpan.

The country of Tairona became a no man's land after the military coup. Guerrillas were formed across the lands, and rebels unified against the dictator to resist the regime. The hopes of many lay on Clandestino, who barely escaped from the military attacks as a child, and was then recruited by the rebel forces, to later lead the revolution against the dictator.

Nahuelpan spends most of the first issue painting a picture of the world Clandestino is forced to adapt to; it's a world that essentially created Clandestino in the process of being created. Clandestino himself boasts plenty of familiar, machismo characteristics, the most notable of which is a blatant disregard for personal safety stemming from a supreme well of confidence. His ability as a revolutionary is quickly making him a legend, which plays as the perfect foil to the more rigid tactics being taken by the dictator in power. Nahuelpan focuses primarily on Clandestino's vendetta against the dictator as the driving force behind the book. There are a lot of gaps in Clandestino's history as the first issue jumps around quite a bit, but it's likely that Nahuelpan will delve into some of those gaps in future issues.

Doubling down on the art, Nahuelpan isn't shy about making Clandestino #1 an intense, graphic comic. Characters in this book are subject to all manner of violence, evidenced most clearly in the opening few pages where Clandestino lays waste to a group of marauders. Nahuelpan fills each panel with an intricate level of detail, from meticulous placement of shattered glass to the dense foliage of a jungle. There are also some interesting panel layouts and arrangements that help the story, the most notable of which is a giant gun-shaped panel slicing through the middle of a particularly violent page. Nahuelpan's reliance on a somewhat muted color palette gives the book a dusty feel in line with the setting of the story itself.

Clandestino #1 is unapologetic about its characters and events, which is a good thing. The main character Clandestino isn't shy about fighting what he feels is right and doing so in a way that's the very definition of no-holds barred. Nahuelpan presents a character and story working in tandem in the first issue, setting the table for future issues to work from in further building out both. His artwork is gritty yet particular, paying attention to minute details while characters interact with one another in violent ways. Clandestino #1 is a solid first issue that offers the potential to get a lot more interesting as it progresses.

Clandestino #1 is in stores now.