Advantages Stunning art from Bernet, wonderful stories packed into very few pages
Disadvantages The RRP is high... (but it is a hardback)
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Mention the word Comics and the likelihood is that all people will think about is all those big, brash and colourful American super-heroes, this was true 10, 15 years ago and even more the case now after the whole rash of superhero movie that have hit the cinema screen and hence been at the forefront of the general publics minds since then.There is a lot more to Comics than what most people imagine though, in fact even today comics the world over are more akin to the golden days of weekly British comics, with their mixed bag of contents and a prevalence of comedy and action/adventure strips.
Japan has a massive comic culture and their Manga are read by a large number of the Japanese people. They also cover a very wide range of subjects including tennis, teaching and even running a boarding house amongst others.Europe is not far behind, but that is mainland Europe as France and Italy have a big comic industry, one that aims at all ages and does stories to suit all their readers.
Torpedo is a Spanish production that was created by writer Enrique Sanchez Abuli and legendary American artist Alex Toth. Torpedo started in a Spanish magazine and, again more akin to its British counterparts, consists of short one off stories that were complete in every issue of Creepy, the magazine it appeared in, starting in 1981.Toth soon found he didn’t like the way the character of Luca Torelli (the real name of Torpedo) was going and dropped out after only two stories… leaving the way open for Jordi Benet to come in a do all the art for the character from then on. As it turned out this was a terrific change for the strip as Benet had a more realistic, down and dirty look to his art that Toth’s, admittedly brilliant, clean cut lines and look just couldn’t compete with.
I can’t remember when I first came across the stories of Luca, it was quite a while ago and I was only half impressed by his adventures. I think it was probably 10-15 years ago when this happened and I never thought any more about him. A couple of years ago I was bought a massive book of crime comics that had a selection of different short crime stories from around the world. Most were so so but there were a few that really stood out head and shoulders above all else in the book… a story starring Luca, the Torpedo was one of them.Jump forward to early 2012 and a trip to Birmingham to see the wonderful Train in concert. A visit to the local comic shop afforded me the amazing site of 4 volumes of Torpedo in a glorious hardback format. They were expensive at £18 each but I couldn’t resist and picked up volume 2 (there being no number one on the shelf) and started to see about hunting down the first collection.
This was found on ebay at a very reasonable £10 and I was very soon reading the first volume and realising how brilliant it actually is.The one thing that stands out most about Luca and his adventures is how morally bankrupt the character is. Luca is called Torpedo because he is a hitman. He kills for a living and doesn’t care who or why he has to do it.
I have to say that generally I really cant deal with this sort of character but I think because he goes up against other criminals or lowlifes in pretty much every story in this volume I didn’t really get that feeling of hate for him. I don’t like him as a person but as a character and as a tool to tell great stories he is the perfect foil.This first volume contains both Toth stories and a whole bunch of Bernet ones. Toth is a master of graphic storytelling and his two stories show this, but his art doesn’t fit the world that Abuli is creating for Luca.
There are 14 short stories here, none of them very long most of them just 7 pages. A writer who can create great stories in such a short length is a rarer commodity but Abuli does it time and again. Delving deep into the dark, nasty streets of gangster filled 1930’s New York.I absolutely loved this collection, I am a sucker for crime stuff it has to be said but this really lived up to my expectations after finding that one off story.
If you have any interest in Comics and like to read something a little bit different to the usual superhero adventures then I thoroughly recommend looking out for this and trying it out. It once again shows that mainland Europe can outdo the Americans at what they almost consider their own creation.
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