27 February, 2009

Review: El Gorgo! 1 & 2

The battles of a Mexican ape against the legions of Dagon burst from the pages of this offbeat, exuberant homage to Silver Age Comics.

Jack Kirby was a long-time Marvel Comics artist who co-created, with Stan Lee, many of it's most famous characters. 'Beloved' would not be too strong a word to describe the devotion which many comics fans and creators feel about 'the King.' Such is clearly the case with the creators of El Gorgo!

El Gorgo, the eponymous Mexican wrestler-rock star- superhero, interrupts a human sacrifice by acolytes of malevolent god, Dagon, little does he know what terrible forces he sets in motion.

What follows (with few pauses) for almost the entirety of the first two issues is a relentless royal rumble of smashing, jumping, punching action as El Gorgo teams up with unexpected allies, travels through space and time and body slams bad guys.

El Gorgo! is tremendous fun and innocent - or perhaps just not cynical - in a way that is reminds me of why I liked to read comics as a kid. Not that El Gorgo! is childish, but it certainly recalls that childlike reading space. The sincerity and enthusiasm of the storytelling - with its unlikely combination of HP Lovecraft and Jack Kirby - prevents it slipping into parody or pastiche.

Artist Tamas Jakab draws a pretty good Kirby crackle and writer Mike McGee puts together an interesting cast of heroes and villains. Jakab's artwork is wonderful and evocative. The linework is loose, but meaty - I hope he never loses this raw feeling, which is mostly gone from mainstream comics - and the colouring is bold and full of 'special effects'.

If I have any criticism it's that the comic is a little cluttered, both visually and in terms of storytelling. There is a bit too much text on the page and each issue is crammed with enough incident for two issues.
While this ensures that the adventure never lets up, it leaves little room for character development.

But this is early days for El Gorgo! I feel sure that the creators will lengthen their stride as the comic progresses.
And if they maintain the comic's high quality it will win a lot of readers.