The eternal mask


  • Books
  • Friday, 13 May 2011

The Lone Ranger: The Death Of Zorro #1 (of 5) (Dynamite/US$3.99) Writer: Ande Parks Artist: Esteve Polls (Covers by Alex Ross or Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler)

NEXT to Superman’s Clark Kent facade, Zorro’s “secret identity” is the most nonsensical idea in comics. I struggle to accept the fact that both villains and villagers are unable to pinpoint the similarities between Don Diego de la Vega and Zorro despite the uncanny resemblance, and the dearth of guys with moustaches and pearly white teeth living in the Spanish colonial era of California. Anyway, whatever shortcomings Zorro had, it’s hard to deny that he remains a hero.

This five-parter The Lone Ranger: The Death Of Zorro was extremely difficult for me to ignore as it involves closing a part of my childhood.

While the Mask Of Zorro movies (and Catherine Zeta-Jones’ appearances) have elevated the logic of the Zorro concept, the idea of a horse-riding, rapier-wielding character remains fluffy, especially in an era where heroes wear spandex or wield a “mew mew” hammer.

Ironically, this is also how the story is scripted as it offers a retired Don Diego living out his twilight years. Think of this as Zorro’s version Dark Knight Returns as he comes out of retirement to save his people from an army of Confederate bushwhackers.

The mismatch here is in terms of the Ranger in his prime, while Zorro is way past his expiry date.

Nevertheless, Zorro still has enough fire in his belly to upstage a few bushwhackers but the rustiness is clearly evident as Don Diego inevitably meets his end. Here’s where my earlier Dark Knight reference falls short of expectations, prompting the Ranger and Tonto to do the honours in delivering justice.

Having operated as “heroes” in different time frames, the major bummer here is that this premier issue does not offer a “physical” team up between the legends. The usual “compulsory” slugfest is also missing between the heroes in this crossover.

Plot wise, this is a very straightforward script where you don’t have to know or like both characters to predict the ending. Having enjoyed Dynamite’s regular Lone Ranger series, this five-parter is still a few silver bullets short. I hope that things will build up in the upcoming issues. Where art is concerned, Esteve Polls delivers the usual Dynamite-quality work and the Alex Ross or even the Jerry “The King” Lawler covers should give you more reasons to add this to your collection.

Spectacular Spider-Man #1000 (Marvel/US$3.99) Writer: John Ostrander Artist: Michael Ryan

MARVEL rolls out the ultimate act of “kiasu-ism” by releasing this supposedly milestone millennium issue, probably aimed at watering down the impact of Action Comics #900. While the Man of Steel has every right to proudly bask in his ninth century issue, the House of Ideas capitalises on a Spidey-Punisher team up here to hog the limelight.

With no links to present day continuity, this stand-alone tale focuses on the life of a high school jock, whose encounters with the Punisher and Spidey turn out to be life-changing experiences. For added value, this issue is bundled with a reproduction of Amazing Spider-Man #129 (Punisher’s first appearance).

Batman Incorporated #5 (DC/US$2.99) Writer: Grant Morrison Artist: Yanick Paquette

THIS So You Think You Can Be Batman title cranks up as a host of Batman-wannabes and extended members of the Bat family (Azrael and Batwoman) join in the fight against the threat of Doctor Dedalus. Corny as the whole premise may sound, this Batman-franchise concept might just prove to be the right tonic in further enhancing the Dark Knight’s status. After all, how many more Batman-Joker movies can fans endure?

The Mighty Thor #1 (Marvel/US$3.99) Writer: Matt Fraction Artist: Oliver Coipel

WITH the movie surpassing most fans’ expectations, this newly launched title should provide the perfect jump in point for new Asgardian converts. For existing “devotees”, the presence of Galactus and the Silver Surfer are enough reasons to rejoice – though I’m still in a daze as to when was this Master-Herald relationship rekindled.

The storyline here takes place post-Siege and factors in the events of the last Thor series as he undertakes a quest to claim the World Tree’s seed. The task proves daunting as Thor emerges with bruises but owes his success to Loki, who has now been reduced to a child-state by Odin (as a punishment for his role in Siege).

Writer Matt Fraction goes for the spectacular here instead of the usual heavy Norse mythology route that most Thor relaunches are associated with.

FF #2 (Marvel/US$2.99) Writer: Jonathan Hickman Artist: Steve Epting

IF you haven’t gotten over Johnny Storm’s death, reading this issue should divert your attention as the ultimate “betrayal” in comics takes place here. Last issue’s induction of (Dr) Doom already left my jaw hanging and this month’s decision to restore Doom’s brain left me stunned. But this is just the tip of the iceberg as the cliffhanger tops even Jonathan Hickman’s best stories.

Spidey’s presence aside, the fantastic pace that the FF has been going is certainly fast establishing this title as Marvel’s best monthly offering. Ten issues away from the sixth century milestone, expect a lot of life-altering moments in the wake.

Comics courtesy of Earth638 (Atria Shopping Centre, Lot 2.13J, 2nd Floor, Jalan SS 22/23, Damansara Jaya, Petaling Jaya, Selangor / 03-7729-6380 / e-mail: earth638@streamyx.com).

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