A Review from Stephen Clark
When I was a kid, after 9PM or so, the Disney channel would switch from cartoons and live action preteen programming over to airing old black and white TV series, feel good family sitcoms and a few older movies. My favorite among these would be the old black and white Zorro episodes. Because of that, when my grandma and I went to go see ‘The Rugrats Movie’ and they were sold out, 9 year old Stephen suggested we watch ‘The Mask of Zorro’ instead. We did and my Mom was none too happy about it.
This comic, similar to the movie then, Mom wouldn’t have approved of a 9 year old reading. But not for any of the reasons I’d have seen coming.
Camp and avoiding the generic.
On the cover of the comic, it touts the 100 year anniversary of the character Zorro. He’s a product of his time in storytelling style and the world that those stories will be presented in. While reading the comic, the dialogue was one of the first things that stuck out. It came off…formal? Initially, this felt like possibly bad writing but I quickly began reading it like the black and white serial episodes from my childhood. I enjoyed it for the campy formulaic story that I remembered.
That is, until it departed from that in a BIG way. A nine foot tall eldritch monster kind of way.
This isn’t a bad thing. We’ve seen a bit of re-framing and fun happen around a lot of classic properties like the Archie comic crossovers with the Predator a couple years back. The monster in this Zorro comic was a jarring change, to be certain, but wasn’t for the worse. Again, stories are a product of their time, and monsters and the casual treatment of gore are certainly one of the defining characteristics of media in the last couple decades.
Storytelling through tropes
One of the first characters we meet in the comic is Mathias, a man with long white/blonde hair. He and his half brother are the leaders of a band of criminals who clearly have a lot more going on with their past and their different parentage is pointed in such a way that we know it’ll be a focus going forward.
The trope of the possibly supernatural sibling who looks really different from the rest of their family is one that fits well into this new supernatural Zorro world for me and I’m curious to see where that goes.
Art and presentation
The interior art of the comic suffers a bit from same-face-different-outfit qualities but doesn’t detract from the storytelling. The colors stand out as one of the best portions of the art on the page often, though I do think they could better incorporate shading present in the line work in some specific instances.
What started as a read that I had to find the enjoyment in, surprised me and subverted my expectation of what a Zorro comic could be. For a first issue, they sow good seeds that are sure to pay off later.
The character of Zorro inserted into a story that the original creator would have never written and does so without being a bad thing. A hard feat to achieve!
Overall Score: C+
Positives: An interesting take on an old character that still maintains itself well in that universe.
Negatives: A turn that won’t be for everyone and art that, at times, took away from the portrayal of the story.
A review copy of this issue was provided by the publisher American Mythology Productions find out more about this series at www.americanmythology.net