I love Kaluta's art. His cover for the first issue of DC's The Shadow is my absolute favorite comic cover of all. In my humble opinion, he's a living legend. That said. . .this is NOT his best work. Zorro's pose is extremely strange and awkward. His face is almost not even there. The rest of it (the snakes and such) is nicely done, but Zorro is just pretty bad. A shame that this 3rd (maybe fourth?) tier publisher managed to swing a Kaluta cover and it turned out like this.
We begin at the hacienda of a rich landowner, at a dinner party that is interrupted by a robbery at the hands of the Agueros brothers. . .thuggish Murillo and frail Mathias, along with their gang. Zorro (attending the party in his guise of Don Diego De La Vega) quickly leaps into action, sending the gang fleeing into the night.
The next day, Don Diego joins a patrol of Mexican soldiers as they set off in pursuit of the bandits, who managed to get away with a mysterious gemstone. Captain Eugenio, the leader of the patrol, believes the thieves are headed for Antiguo Camino, an isolated fishing village with a reputation for being unwelcoming to outsiders.
Back at the hacienda that was robbed, we see the rich landowner, his entire family, and some soldiers left behind to guard him from further attacks, slaughtered by grotesque monsters. We then see that at the camp of the Agueros brothers, the strange Mathias is able to see the killings in his dreams.
After a bit of conflict between the two brothers over leadership of the gang, shouts of alarm are raised by the lookouts and the camp is attacked by the same grotesque creatures Mathias saw in his dreams!
To be continued. . .
Hmmmmm. . .Okay. Interesting.
I have to admit that I'm a bit disappointed. While the elements of a good Zorro story are all here, and are quite enjoyable, the second half of this Zorro/ Cthulhu combo is not very well done at all.
H.P. Lovecraft's stories always have a feeling of ambiguity to them. . .like there's something just past what is on the page. A creepy feeling that there's more to the story than what's being told. That feeling is entirely missing here.
The writer definitely hit a foul ball on the Lovecraft side of things by revealing the monsters in the first issue of the story instead of slowly building up to them. Instead of creepy, eldritch horror, we get a straight-up monster attack story with Zorro thrown in.
Not that this is necessarily a bad story. It's pretty good Zorro story mixed with a healthy helping of gruesome supernatural monsters so far. But let's just get it straight that this isn't anywhere close to Lovecraft.
On the art side of things. . .a little disappointing there as well.
I'd describe the art as being barely on the good side of average. It's sketchy in places, and the coloring is extremely weak through the whole issue, making the whole thing look blander than it should. It's not really bad. I've seen worse. It's just a bit average and unremarkable.
Personally, I was pretty interested (and even a little excited) to check out a combination of Zorro and Cthulhu. Unfortunately, while it might be a good idea as a story pitch, the execution is lacking. There's a good Zorro story here, but the Lovecraft side of the combo is almost entirely missing. That and some lackluster art make this a somewhat disappointing first issue.
I like this cover a lot more than Kaluta's for the first issue. Zorro looks determined and fierce as he faces down the eldritch creatures rising from the water. It's not the greatest comic cover I've ever seen, but the grim look and heroic stance of Zorro make it a cut above the average.
Continuing directly from last issue, we begin in the camp of the Agueros brothers and their outlaw gang, which is under attack from a trio of grotesque creatures. Several of the gang are killed, but after a brutal battle, the creatures are killed and the Agueros gang waste no time in packing up and leaving the scene.
The next morning, Don Diego and the Mexican patrol in pursuit of the gang come across the campsite and ponder the nature of the strange creatures laying dead amongst the gang members. The Captain sends for reinforcements from Santa Barbara while the patrol continues pursuing the gang toward Antiguo Camino.
Later that day, the Agueros gang rides into Antiguo Camino, passing by the unwelcoming townfolk and stopping at the sketchiest church ever (see below). Inside, a strange ceremony is interrupted by the gang. Mathias gives the priestess the oddly-glowing green stone they stole and then tells her that the other men in the gang are his gifts to her! The worshippers grab the gang, but Mathias tells them that his brother isn't part of the deal.
The priestess takes the brothers downstairs and shows them a room full of gold coins that is to be their reward. Mathias tells the priestess that he didn't do this for any reward of gold, and then tells her that they are being pursued and that none of the men following them should be allowed to escape.
As they speak, Don Diego and the Mexican patrol arrive at the outskirts of Antiguo Camino.
To be continued. . .
Once again, not a BAD story. . .just disappointing. Zorro doesn't make an appearance in this issue (except in the guise of Don Diego and during a brief flashback), so the Cthulhu portion of the combo takes center stage. Unfortunately, like the first issue, this ain't Lovecraft by a long shot.
The Cthulhu cult is openly worshipping. The monsters are attacking. There's no signature slow build to the horror. It's just right there in your face. The art improves a bit over the first issue, but it's still sketchy in places and the colors are washed out and bland through most of the issue, although there is a bit of improvement on the colors as well.