Dueling Reviews: Zorro #17

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This week our intrepid duo of reviewers take a peek under the mask of the latest issue of Zorro.  Will they bask in the glory of the hero’s exploits, or will they run in terror as yet another tale of The Fox sends those who worship evil’s might packing?

Previously in Zorro:  The legend continues to grow as bandits, pirates, and the Spanish army share tales of the cunning fox who terrorizes the west coast of North America. While many are fooled by Don Diego Vega’s masquerade, Lolita de la Pulido has figured it out, making their upcoming marriage somewhat problematic.

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Francesco Francavilla: Inker/Penciller
Writer: Matt Wagner

 

Stephen: I don’t know if you’ve been reading the most recent issues in this series, but I like how Matt Wagner has turned Zorro into a darker, more vengeful hero by having the exploits of The Fox told through the eyes of his enemies.  It is a great device to show just how much on edge those who fear Zorro have become in recent months.

Matthew: Out of the night… something something goes briiiiight!  La la laa dee dee dum dee dee deeeeee…  I have not been reading since about issue #12, but this issue makes me sad that I haven’t been on board.  We are introduced to the cruel Don Rafael Guillermo de la Vargas, and the horrific methods that he uses to keep his household and rancho running.  Treating his people as little better than slaves, torturing and mutilating in the service of production, Don Rafael goes so far as to deny food to an entire family because a servant put five cubes of ice in his drink, rather than the prescribed four…  He is the quintessential cruel rich bastard in the Victor Newman/Stefano DiMera vein.

Stephen: Interestingly, this issue turns into more of a parable or ghost story the rich tell their children at night to keep them from becoming too corrupt, “Be careful young one, you don’t want Zorro to come after you in the middle of the night,” kind of thing.

Matthew: Which actually works with the character…  El Zorro uses his notoriety to his advantage, pulling a guerilla action, sabotaging the wine, messing with the harvest, stampeding the women and frightening the cattle.  But when Don Rafael attempts to turn one of his serving women (a woman whose husband’s HANDS were cut off for some half-imagined slight to El Jefe) into his personal concubine, he goes too far.  A black-clad hand seizes his throat, and El Zorro takes a moment to…  discuss a few  things.  El Zorro requests that El Jefe provide 12 months cruelty-free, upon which time he shall return.  But how to keep the corrupt ranchero from another unnecessarily horrible penalty?

Stephen: We’ve seen Zorro mark his greatest foes with his blade. We saw it in the first series, but I was a bit surprised by the final panel and how much he disfigured Don Rafael Guillermo de la Vargas.  I find it somewhat ironic that Zorro was one of the inspirations for Batman, and by issues end, discover how The Joker influenced the marking of this villain.

Matthew: It’s important to note that these stories take place in the 1800’s, a time when torture was more pervasive, and the types of things described by the story did, indeed, happen.  When El Zorro leaves his mark on Don Rafael, it’s a question of justice, of the punishment fitting the crime.  This is a man who threatened to cut off a woman’s hands if she didn’t submit to his will, a man who would starve an entire family because a bull breaks free.  El Zorro is a hero, yes, but he is also a man of his times, and on occasion, it would seem that an eye for an eye is a necessary evil.

Stephen: I rarely talk about the coloring in a comic book, but going back to the previous point, I really like how the artists use red during Zorro’s most aggressive moments, and how the contrast of the image is so low turning the action into a near silhouette.  While I’ve no doubt Zorro is marking the villains as described, I question how much of the tale is fabricated as it is passed down the “telephone line”.

Matthew: That’s a valid point, actually, as we don’t actually SEE the events occurring, so much as we hear the version of it that the governor hears.  The coloring is a large part of the success of this issue, working with the art to create an engaging visual experience.  The palette is wonderfully subtle, using the earth-tones of the Southwest rather than old-school four-color RGB, and it works wonderfully…

Stephen: I’m still enjoying the Zorro series, and glad that we’ve been able to showcase the series on the site. I kind of wish we could get back into Zorro’s battles with the army, or at least see the story from Zorro’s point of view, as seeing how he outwits his enemies is half the fun.  The monochromatic art works for these tales, but a little more color wouldn’t hurt here and there.  Overall, Zorro  #17 is a good tale of someone getting their comeuppance, and earns 4 out of 5 Stars.

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Matthew: Every time we talk Zorro, I am more and more convinced that I need to return it to my pull list, and this book may be the nail in that particular coffin, giving a delightful ‘Rashomon’ sort of effect, with the mysterious man in black sweeping in to deal with injustice on the hacienda in his own inimitable way.  I enjoy the coloring more than I did in earlier issues, where we were looking at a more traditional, and thus less successful, color wheel.  For me, it’s much more fun to see El Zorro as a near force of nature, completely the opposite of the way I like my Batman.  Zorro #17 is a good’n, earning 4.5 out of 5 stars for me, a fun read with a little historical spooned in, and a bit of just desserts to finish it all off.

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