Thursday, 20 December 2012

New Beginnings - Django Unchained #1

This Christmas the cinemas will see the release of the new Quentin Tarantino film, Django Unchained. We also have the timely release of a comic adaptation courtesy of Vertigo, which I assumed would merely be the illustrated depiction of the same story. However, there is a key difference as pointed out by Tarantino himself in the introduction. The story on the silver screen will have ultimately changed as the script is rewritten and the film is shot creation, but this comic has been made true to the original script.

To this extent it means that the comic is written by Quentin Tarantino from his first draft. Exciting times.

The story is set before the American Civil War, when the West was wild and slavery ran rife. Trading in 'workers' was the norm and more often than not a gun settled all disputes. From the very start this is all brought into play as the story unfolds with a chain gang being moved across the wilds from an auction.

Through this sequence we are given our two main characters - an unlikely pair. Django, a now former slave and Dr King Schultz, a now former dentist. Once free of the Speck brothers, they embark on a journey in search of their first targets. Although at first this isn’t clear why, it unfolds to reveal that Schultz is a bounty hunter - one with a very eloquent and educated manner about him. He’s also a man who sees past things and is in no way bothered by the colour of Django’s skin or the inherent racism that surrounds him too. For Dr Schultz is a man with focus and more importantly a plan. Something which is very well portrayed in the writing.

Unfortunately I sometimes found which a little over vocal, which was the point, but instead of feeling the frustration the other characters had with him I often found my mind wandering to Kevin Kline in Wild Wild West. Django on the other hand pulls no punches speaking his mind freely.

Although there is a clear plot to the story of one of our characters, which I believe will be rapidly fulfilled and become a plot vehicle, the main idea behind the story. Put simply, Django is to be trained and introduced to the world of bounty hunting, which will inevitably enable him to find his wife who was also sold to slavery.

The artwork has been provided by R.M. Guera, a Serbian artist who has done a lot of work throughout Europe but most importantly is on the longstanding title Scalped working with Jason Aaron. Whereas the artwork isn’t as detailed and clean as I prefer the one thing I can say is that it is completely full of emotion and every face tells a part of the story, most importantly the eyes.

It is also a great piece of work considering that his brief would have most likely been to make identifiable characters without making them obvious or similar to the actors portraying them on the big screen too. As a bonus to support this there are a couple of pages at the end of the comic dedicated to sketchbook work which I felt was a nice touch as well.

However, and I know that this is an odd observation, it seems he doesn’t like clouds as I don’t think I saw a frame with one in the sky. With a lot of the pages being fantastic to see I’m not really sure why I was drawn to this but I was.

As yet another easter egg the centre pages are a double page poster spread given to us by veteran artist Jim Lee.

The story as it has unfolded in this first issue is a good one that I liked; I found myself reading along with various voices in my head giving the lines, something I don’t always find when I read. I am very wary that the impending film release could overshadow this comic but I would encourage anyone who likes the film to read the comic and gain extras they wouldn’t see - there is a whole lot of promise in these pages. If I had room on my pull list then I think this one would be added to it.

Matt Puddy is almost ready for Christmas!

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