By Daniel Vlasaty
Like with most other new books I went into Gasolina #1 not knowing anything about it. I like doing it this way. I don’t want to know too much about a story before I’m in that story. I don’t read preview pages when they’re released months before a books actual release date for this reason.
Gasolina is a lot of things rolled into one. This is both good and bad though. It’s good because I can tell this story is going to touch on a lot of different genres. Crime, for sure. Probably horror as well. Maybe even family drama too. And I’m sure there are other ones that even I’m missing right now. I like when stories cross genres because then it opens the story up to take countless unexpected twists and turns. Instead of just being a story of cane farmers somehow mixed up with cartels, which could and would be interesting on its own. It becomes something else entirely when you add some horror elements. Some kind of creatures attacking and killing people from the inside out. And what if the cartel is more of a “death cult,” what does that do to the story?
But, on the other hand, it can also hurt a story. Trying to cram so many different things into a story, trying to do too much in a single issue, and the book can start to get messy. I’m not saying that it’s not going to work over the course of the series. I’m just saying that maybe Sean Mackiewicz tried to introduce too many ideas into the first issue. And because of it we didn’t get as much character development. But again it’s the first issue and the writing here is solid enough that I’m sure it will all work itself out over the coming issues.
I just wish we were given more about the characters. I have a general idea of the two main character, Randy and Amalia, a young couple on the run for something. Or from something. Not really sure about the what or the whys yet. They’re working on Amalia’s family’s farm in Mexico and there is some kind of tension between her and her family. But that’s all we’re given in issue #1. We’re not given any other details. Other than that, we are introduced to a handful of characters but we never really get to know any of them. Somehow, Randy has a working knowledge of cartels and how and why they kidnap people to get their way. But, again, we’re not given any other information on it.
Randy and Amalia are clearly being set up to be the good guys of this story. Maybe more anti-hero than straight up hero. But there’s nothing here yet that draws me to them, nothing that gets me to root for them. As of right now I just don’t care about them.
This may sound like I’m dogging the book. But that’s really not the case. I liked the story enough that I’ll come back for the next few issues, for sure. I liked the mystery. I’m interested in seeing what’s up with this cartel/death cult. I’m intrigued. I’m excited to see where it goes. I just wish I liked the characters better than I do now. I hope to get there. I’m sure I will. Again, only one issue in and it’s more of a stage-setting issue than anything else.
I wish I could say good things about the art. I’m not at all familiar with Niko Walter as an artist and I always like checking out new art. But it just wasn’t working for me. I wanted to like it more than I did. The short version of it is that’s it’s just kind of boring. There is nothing that stands out. It’s flat. The faces lack depth and emotion. It kind of looked like it was traced from photographs. The coloring was decent and fit the setting of the story. Sunny and bright and desert-y. But the shadows were almost too dark. If that makes sense. Especially on the faces.
Like I said before, I think it’s coming off like I’m being too hard on this book and that this is a bad review. It’s not. Not really. I did like the book. I just think it could have been great instead of just good. First issues are tricky bitches though. Creators have to do a lot in them. They have to tell a good and compelling story so that readers will come back again for the next issues, but they also have to set up enough of the story so that the thing actually has momentum. I am hooked, though. The last few pages sealed it for me. Plus, I’ve been really into drug cartel stories lately, and I’m always down for a story featuring a death cult. There is a lot to like here. Something for pretty much everyone, I would guess.
Image Comics/Skybound Entertainment