Comic Review: Django/Zorro #1
Examining interviews prior to Django Unchained’s 2012 release, Quentin Tarantino explained his goals of not only making a hero of his titular protagonist, rejecting the victimization typical to slave characters, but giving black American males a hero as well. This kind of cultural image branding is important. Growing up half-Mexican, my brother and I would play as Vega in Street Fighter constantly because, hey, a Spaniard was as close as we were going to get. Non-Anglo bad-asses are still far from the norm, which makes this meeting between a modern ethnic icon and one of the few Mexican figures in pop culture so momentous. Given the implication that Django Freeman and Broomhilda von Shaft are the ancestors of a particular New York detective bad mother- (“shut yo mouth”), the idea of linking our bounty hunter with other fictional figures isn’t such a stretch. As far as crossovers go this isn’t Archie Meets Predator, which makes our transition from a Deep South locale to the Southwest smooth. Django is introduced in his familiar scarf and green coat, while the foppish outfit of Don Diego de la Vega (Zorro’s secret identity, for the uninitiated) seems to recall Freeman’s embarrassing blue valet suit. Meeting on a dusty trail in Arizona, Don Diego’s Old World grace and color-blind attitude intrigue Django as they remind him of his former partner, Dr. King Schultz. Without divulging anymore, there are quite a few parallels with the film in play. But even with echoes of the Oscar award winner present, this issue is not a remake with a pulp-era casting change. Despite some surface similarities, you can tell they are setting things up to be different. For starters, the “D” isn’t silent. Django is much more talkative than we’ve seen, evolving from a near-mute slave. In this regard, I was hoping to read some of Quentin’s trademark dialogue but it looks like Grendel scribe, Matt Wagner, is in charge of the word balloons here. Also, the narrator role is taken by Don Diego’s mute confidant, Bernardo, which casts a strong tie to the Zorro universe. Despite Django getting top billing, this first issue does a good job of balancing focus between our two leads, a trend which I hope continues. Props to the busy Matt Wagner. This isn’t even his only crossover book this month (take a peek at Grendel vs The Shadow #3 if you’re eager for more pulp action). Esteve Polls’ art fits this adventure like a glove. Having worked on past Zorro titles and The Lone Ranger, Polls’ experience with the Old West shows in the texture of the harsh Arizona landscape.
Review 5 (out of 7) – While the last panel had me grinning like an idiot, I am holding out for the swashbuckling, guns-a-blazing adventure that’s sure to come. You had my curiosity, but now you have my attention.