Sunday, June 26, 2016

" La Muerta #1: Descent" Review

"La Muerta #1: Descent" from Coffin Comics -

     Maria Diaz is a decorated combat veteran who has just returned home from her final tour in Afghanistan. Haunted by sinister dreams of her time there, Maria is looking forward to a normal life, returning to the common, everyday world. Unfortunately for Maria, and her family, her younger brother, Xavier, has fallen in with the local cartel which is run by a bloodthirsty, malevolent woman named Mama Z. When Xavier steals money from the Z Cartel, he signs not only his own death warrant, but those of his entire family. Maria, killed along with the rest of her beloved family, somehow miraculously revives, and is nursed back to health by a mysterious vagrant named Faustino. After eight months in a coma, she awakens to a very different world - a world in which all she ever loved is now gone. One night, Maria  is visited by La Santa Muerte, the personification of death itself, and commanded to seek justice upon those who killed her family and destroyed her life. Maria Diaz is dead. Now, there only remains...La Muerta - the Dead Woman. And there will be blood.

    Collaborating with Mike Maclean, Brian Pulido is up to his old tricks in the first issue of "La Muerta." If you've read any of Pulido's other works, like Lady Death, Evil Ernie, or Purgatori, you already know what to expect: lots of darkness, and lots of blood and gore. This is a pretty by-the-book revenge story with supernatural overtones mixed in with some great, classic Mexican religious iconography and Aztec mythology. Sure, this comic is VERY derivative - it's reminiscent of James O'Barr's seminal work, "The Crow" and Javier Hernandez's cool, but lesser known work, "El Muerto (The Dead One)," which was made into a cheesy, fun feature film starring the talented Wilmer Valderrama:

But just because this comic is a bit unoriginal, doesn't mean that it's not enjoyable. It is. "La Muerta" has a strong female protagonist, who needs to fleshed out more, and it has lots of antagonists that you can't wait to see meet horrible fates, because they are horrible people. It's that simple. The art here is done by Joel Gomez, and is at times gorgeous, gory and moody...As well as being a bit stiff in some panels. But overall, "La Muerta" #1 is pleasing to the eye - Gomez is more than competent, and Ceci de la Cruz's colors are perfectly done. It is important to mention that "La Muerta" #1 also touches on some very real issues - issues which in 1920's America led to the rise of hard-boiled heroes, which ultimately gave rise to masked pulp heroes, and eventually the American comic book superhero. In "La Muerta" you see good people trying to survive and do the right thing in an environment plagued by crime, violence, and the corruption of the very people elected to look out for the citizens. The Z Cartel reminds me of Los Zetas, a once powerful cartel that operated in various parts of Mexico until just last year. It makes sense that a hero, like Maria, when pushed to extremes, would do heroic things. I dig that.

RATING: 7 out of 10. If you are a fan of Pulido's earlier works and style, you'll definitely have fun with this one. 

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