“There must be no survivors from Mirella's resurrection.” - Zorro
Since I don't have the final published edition of the comic in my sweaty little hands this review focuses on the advanced preview copy of Love Never Ends, the second story in Del Rio's new two punch comic.
The Gypsy woman Mirella decides to conduct a resurrection ceremony at night in St Peters cemetery, just outside an unnamed City. Naturally since the cemetery is built on sacred Indian buried grounds things don't exactly turn out as Mirella had envisaged. Returning from the dead are numerous zombies and Don Hernando, who is out to reclaim the love of his life, the beautiful Maria. Unfortunately for Hernando, Maria has moved on with her life and is on the eve of her marriage to a second husband. What's a zombie to do? It's up to Don Diego's masked alter ego Zorro to some how stop the undead Hernando, save Maria, and sort out the zombie plague currently infesting St Peters. So what do you have planned for this evening?
Seems the Australian Independent Comic industry is looking at some pretty high profile franchises from other Countries, deciding they would look cool with new chapters, and just for the hell of it making them over with horror shrouds and concepts. You got to love that development! Firstly we had Black House Comics giving the venerable Sherlock Holmes a Hammer Horror makeover in the Dark Detective series, now Silver Fox Comics have done the same with the Californian Robin Hood, El Zorro. From memory I don't recall Zorro ever having faced Zombies before, may just be me though. So we have a horror eye for the mainstream going down. The Dark Detective is a huge hit, the question we're answering is whether or not Zorro will equally become a staple of Downunder, and hopefully foreign, comic readers. Lets reign in Toronado and see what's going on between the covers.
Before anyone says “hang about wasn't Zorro a Spanish/Mexican hero” it should be pointed out that the adventures of the masked swordsman were indeed set in California, but that would be a California under the rule of the Spanish and not the modern day U.S State we are all familiar with. So Del Rio isn't branching from the original mythos to a huge degree, events still take place in Spanish California and Don Diego de la Vega is still the more public face of the heroic Zorro. So far so good, even Zorro Traditionalists are likely to be happy with life.
Where Del Rio goes off the reservation is with the introduction of horror elements into the world of Zorro. I'm going to assume here that standard Zorro stories do not contain Indian sacred grounds, Gypsy magic, or zombies. While dark genre fans are likely to be high fiving each other, fans of the more traditional Zorro stories are apt to be slightly concerned about where things might be headed. Surprisingly Del Rio brings the whole Zorro concept full circle, returning to the original concept of Zorro from the source comics and jettisoning the almost Hogan Heroes bumbling Authorities approach that Walt Disney polluted the franchise with. So in essence Del Rio is presenting more of a traditional Zorro than interim television shows and movies have showered us with. If you want to see how Zorro should be presented then Del Rio gives you that opportunity.
As a Writer Del Rio isn't holding back and delivers a plot line that will have fans screaming for more. There's an urgency to the writing that will drive you through Love Never Ends as the plot unfolds and things become more desperate. The urgency isn't allowed to flag at any stage with an ideal pacing making things immediate. Considering this is an introduction to a new franchise entry we could have expected something slightly less tense, Del Rio takes it for granted that either you are familiar with the Zorro mythos or will use your own time to do some basic research. However you do not need to know anything about the existing body of work in order to get full value from the comic. Del Rio goes down town into Zorro central and delivers the sort of script that fans have been waiting for through the belaboured Disney years.
The panels themselves are in black and white, though notably the covers are in full glorious colour. We're talking crisp artwork, the art escaping individual panels, and an easy to read font in use. I did find it hard on occasion to work out the sequence of some dialogue bubbles, but not enough to overly effect my enjoyment of the story. Two thumbs up for the presentation of the comic, things are kicking off in a professional style with high standards being the order of the day.
What's remarkable about the first Zorro comic is that Del Rio has taken a hell of a lot of risks in order to present something completely new and an experience that Readers are going to enjoy. Del Rio adds the darker nature to things that we all knew where in the Zorro universe and presents a story where our hero may not have the skills to achieve the perfect outcome. Del Rio makes Zorro realistic and immediate, an action hero for those of us who need a dark avenger for the righteous.
While reading Love Never Ends I was pleasantly reminded of just how much Zorro mythology I seem to have acquired from various sources. Sorab Del Rio takes Zorro back to the source, mixes in some horror goodness, and delivers a read that will have the Audience baying at the moon for more. There's an urgency in the story and a commitment to quality in the presentation that ensures you are going to get full value for money. For sure this site will be investing time in the release version of the magazine, we're in for a good time here.
Silver Fox already have a site up and running, right here, that has an online option to purchase the first Zorro comic for a low $7, that includes P&H folks. Considering you get a reverse full colour cover, and 53 odd pages of goodness, that represents value for money in anyone's language. Go grab yourself a copy, all the cool kids are already there, full freaking recommendation. Please note the comic is available Feb 2011, so get in quick to pre-order.
ScaryMinds Rates this read as ...br> br> An excellent return for El Zorro, leaving marking room for the production release.