The word bubble, that bright white blob that reveals character's discussions, and sometimes their thoughts. They have been used sparingly and at times way too much drowning out the art. Here they are used to illustrate how two unlikely acquaintances grow to know each other and perhaps become great friends. There are three scenes of just Django and Don Diego de le Vega (you may know him as Zorro) just talking. In these three scenes there is more character revelation and development done then some entire story arcs host. When the two meet, Django is claiming his horse had died and he just needs a lift to the nearest city. He pretends to be a prospector looking to earn his fortune. Don Diego is in a fancy carriage eating good food, speaking Spanish (although he quickly jumps into English as that is the more common language where he is now traveling) he is an extravagant stranger, a seeming dandy who doesn't know better. As the two converse, they probe each other for the truth of their character. It is friendly and without malice or distrust, there is just obviously more to the man sitting across the carriage then meets the eye.
Breaking up these three conversation scenes are two big quick action scenes. Each allowing one of the characters to illustrate their personal flare. When it comes to the fight scenes, the art leaps into action, completely taking over. The word balloons that were precious and vital before are all but gone. It is just a well stacked layout of panels showing the speed and brutality of the conflicts.
Django's fight is brutal silent firefight before he gives a soliloquy to the head of the gang he was hunting. Diego's is more flashy, but he has a quiet intensity. Diego's conflict comes from ignorant men trying to stir up trouble, so they are shamed, not killed. The traditional “Z” is left in a most unusual place and the reveal actually made me shiver a little.
Everything about this comic just works. Even with not much really “happening” so much ground is covered. The conversations are spot on and in character, yet also have that Tarantino ring to them. Then there is the art. The art is gritty enough to fit into a western, yet also pops at the reader. When Diego first steps out of his carriage, you get the awe inspiring feel of a real super hero, even though he isn't in his Zorro attire. There is a gravitas given to the characters, just little hints at their larger than life personas as they get a feel for each other.
The clash of the two protagonists isn't as huge as I thought it was going to be going in. Django is a down to business bounty hunter who appreciates anyone who treats him fairly and humanely. He is also still early in his sure to be legendary life as a larger then life figure. Diego on the other hand has already won his original battles. He has moved on to trying to serve justice elsewhere in the world, he is older and wiser, the perfect mentor for this phase in Django's life.
This issue was just the start of the film. The first twenty minutes that introduces the protagonists to the audience and brings the unlikely allies together. It is masterfully done, and if the other issues are just half as good, this will be one of the best minis of the year. Definitely the best company owned crossover in a very long time.
Writers: Quentin Tarantino and Matt Wagner Artist: Esteve Polls Publisher: Dynamite/Vertigo Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 11/12/14 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital