Ciudad is a story primed for the graphic novel format, but at times also feels like a story that wants to be on the silver screen. That’s not always a bad thing as the creators take a cinematic approach to the story and it’s pacing. The graphic novel opens with a man coming to check on the status of a kidnapped girl and verify she’s alive before the ransom is paid; at least that’s what he tells the kidnappers. After verifying that the girl is alive he leaves to “get the money”, but returns and kills all of them. To show his true character one of the men begins crying and begging to not be killed. Our man Tyler gets extremely pissed off by this and begins beating the man with the butt of his gun asking him if he thinks this is a game. Obviously Tyler isn’t the caring type and doesn’t let loose ends come back to bite him in the ass… at least yet.
He gets the girl Eva and they start to leave, but a little girl calls them out to her daddy. Yeah, a little girl knows the score which should give you a clue as to how fucked up the city of Ciudad del Este is. Well her dad calls out to the street that the girl is getting away and a major gun fight breaks out. Tyler hands everyone their asses and they manage to sneak away to the car he has waiting. Eva freaks out when he pops the trunk and he ends up having to drug her in order to get her inside. Is he putting her there for her own protection or is Tyler not on the up and up?
The story flashes back eventually and explains why and how Eva’s been kidnapped and we even see why Tyler has gotten involved.
It’s not often that a city is a character, but that’s how Ciudad del Este comes across in the story. It’s very militant, but at the same time it’s like everyone knows the score and just goes with it making the city feel like a living connected organism. It’s like when people ask why anyone would live in Gotham, well the same could be asked of Ciudad del Este, but that doesn’t mean there’s a straight answer to be had.
There is one problem with the story, but strangely enough the story addresses it. The shit hits the fan in a big way and Tyler’s best option is to ditch the girl and get out of the city. Let’s just say that every deal in place goes south and so now Tyler doesn’t need to finish the job… but he keeps Eva around. He says it’s about his reputation, but everyone can tell that he’s become attached to Eva. In that regard it becomes a bit like Man on Fire. It’s not terrible, but the story brings up the fact that the smart move is to ditch the girl and save himself and he doesn’t. If it didn’t bring it up so much I doubt the reader would have even cared and just accepted it as fact since so many movies have done the same without question.
Since I was checking out a review copy of the book I was given a low res version of the book which makes it difficult to brag about the art; the one page that was at full resolution looked great though and so I’m sure the finished product is going to be really good-looking. The action has a nice flow and you can always tell what’s going on. It’s definitely one that I want to check out in print and see and appreciate the art more.
It’s an entertaining book full of gun play and over the top personalities. It’s not a story that you go in expecting deep character development, but our characters do grow ever so slightly. The bulk of the story is based around the action which is something it does very well.
Story: Ande Parks, Joe Russo & Anthony Russo Writer: Ande Parks Artist: Fernando Leon Gonzalez Publisher: Oni Press Price: $19.99 Release Date: 12/17/14