I was excited to check out Clandestino because Black Mask Studios has been on such a role, but this book is all over the place. It does a decent job of establishing the setting and starting to introduce the main character, but the timeline jumps back and forth leaving you wondering what exactly is the order of events (even though it’s labelled) and sadly ends with a cliffhanger that tells you exactly what this story is really about. The opening is great and I wish that the rest of the issue had fallen suit. The story is set in Tairona and we start by seeing a gang going into a gas station to collect tax for the ruling General. Clandestino, our main character, drives up to the same gas station. He goes to light his cigarette and discovers he’s out of matches. When he walks in he finds the gang holding up the place and they quickly engage in a shootout. This sequence is great and in particular the artwork stands out. On one page the layout is around a gun and it looks awesome. What’s even better is when the store owner asks his name and you have to turn the page only to see the title page of the series. It was wonderful.
After that we see the history of Tairona and how the General came to power. We also see Clandestino as a boy and how he joined the movement against the dictator. The story moves forward and forward until we get to the present.
There’s a lot of extra info to the story. News articles, news broadcasts and frankly none of it really added to the story. If anything it broke it up too much. Also, minor spoiler, but the group of rebels are defeated rather easily after being in operation for 23 years. Not a lot of street cred when that happens. How am I to believe that A) they ever stood a chance and B) that Clandestino, who was trained by them, is that much of a badass?
There’s a lot of world building, but by the time we reach the cliffhanger I had to wonder why? It all feels for not when the story turns into a simple revenge and rescue plot. Maybe there will be a better twist, but this angle is forced upon the plot heavily making me wonder if there’s really going to be anything more to the story. It could still be cool, but I’ll lower my expectations either way.
As for the artwork, it’s pretty damn incredible. It’s photorealistic, but also colored wonderfully. There’s a rustic look to it with a lot of yellows, oranges and browns used, but it gives the story personality. The action is very fluid and detailed. You can easily follow what’s happening and enjoy the over the top violence when it hits. The art is what would bring me back for sure.
It’s a decent start, but there are some pretty obvious problems to this first issue. You never want to spend more time setting up the world than you do developing the main character, but that’s what happens here. Maybe Clandestino is the strong and silent type, but we’d need more time with him to figure that out. My hope is that this series is hiding it’s potential and that we’ll get there in the next issue. At the very least if it continues this path it’ll still be a competent series that’s entertaining to read.
Clandestino #1 Creator: Amancay Nahuelpan Publisher: Black Mask Studios Price: $3.99 Release Date: 10/14/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital