COMIC REVIEW: Humanoids' Son of the Gun #1 & #2
Jodorowsky & Bess tell a unique tale of crime, murder, revenge, and tails...
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Before there was the fan-favorite Heavy Metal Magazine, which began in 1977, there was the French publication Métal Hurlant. First published in 1974 by Les Humanoïdes Associés, the sci-fi and fantasy magazine's success inspired the publisher to continues to bring hard-hitting, gritty, and violent comics to the marketplace. Now, thanks to the publisher's American counterpart, Humanoids, fans of original sci-fi, fantasy, and hardcore comics can pick up a variety of graphic novels.
Alexandro Jodorwsky, co-creator of The Metabarons and writer/director of the famous cult film El Topo, Santa Sangre, and Holy Mountain, and Humanoids' fan-favorite artist Georges Bess bring to life a two-part tale of derangement, death, greed, lust, hate, forgiveness, and grace in Son of the Gun #1: Sinner and Son of the Gun #2: Saint.
Like many stories, Son of the Gun #1: Sinner begins with our main character retelling his life, his death on the horizon and not far off. Juan the Saint - as he's now known - finds himself marching to be crucified in order to appease God and bring the rain to the people of a native tribe. While he's marched to be sacrificed by these, his adopted people, we realize he's not only willing, but looks forward to facing death. And facing it alone.
Jorodowsky's tale is unique in that it forces us, the readers, to decide our own thoughts on such things as what's worth living and dying for, what's worth forgetting and remembering, and what sins are forgivable or unforgivable. The answers to these questions, for Juan at least, are all answered throughout this two-part tale and make for both an entertaining read and an impressive work of fiction.
Unique in that he was born with a tail (p. 31, above), Juan is instantly hated, despised and considered evil. Abandoned by his mother and found in a dump by a prostitute who raises him as her own, the newborn Juan wraps his lips around the cold hard steel of a gun barrel to pacify his cries (p. 15, above). This defines his character and, for most of his sinful life, he'll carry this firearm...and use it. Turning to a life of crime, Juan leads a child gang and then later a group of rapists and murderers. However, it isn't until he falls in with a crew of corrupt political bodyguards and thugs that he finds his true calling.
Even with the an impressive cast of supporting characters, Son of the Gun follows only Juan's deeds and emphasizes the lonesomeness of the story's main character. Even when he's surrounded by others, Juan is still very much alone in his awkwardness, violence, hate, greed, and need for love. Jorodowsky's chosen last name for the character - Solo - perfectly captures the character's attitude.
Joroowsky's characterization of Juan as a loyal, angry brute willing and able to do anything is likewise perfect for the tale as Juan proves, through various actions which must be seen to be understood, he's dedicated to not only be accepted, but exalted amongst his peers. As a reader of this terrific tale, I was astonished at how much I loved Juan's character and yet hated him for all the sadistic things he had done (including decapitating his Boss' political opponent, p.58 above and killing his fellow bodyguards for leadership, p. 70 & 71, below).
We watch Juan, the rapist and killer, rise to power, gaining momentum and speed with every terrible act he performs. And yet, from the way the tale begins in Son of the Gun #1: Sinner, we know Juan will eventually become a holy, sainted man who spiritually leads an entire tribe of people. So what is it that makes him change so drastically? That in and of itself is enough to keep most readers reading.
Besides Juan, Jorodowsky's creates an impressive cast of characters who each play an important role in the rise and fall of Juan as both a sinner and a saint. Most important are Boss, the corrupt politician who hires Juan to be the bodyguard for his wife and son; the Boss' wife and son Lucho, who seek solace and care from Juan and find nothing but heartache and regret; and Boss' bodyguards Elder, Jackal, Bigmouth, Blondie, Pinocchio, The Greek, and Fairy. Their names are perfect for them and fit them well. These bodyguards fight for leadership (p. 65 & 66, above) and thus it's no surprise Juan becomes even stronger and even violent as he joins this crew and eventually leads it.
In respect to the artwork, Bess does an outstanding job of bringing to life Jorodowsky's character-driven script. Whether it's the character designs - specifically the Boss' henchmen and wife, whose looks give their personalities meaning, or the scenery, including the dank and dirty slums of the city and the scorching desert (above & below), Bess' artwork captures these all with amazing detail and realistic style. Likewise, the use of panel design helps move the story seamlessly between setting and time, ensuring readers never feel out of touch with the tale of Juan Solo and his violent rise, tragic downfall, and graceful redemption.
So how does Juan eventually become a saint, willing and able to sacrifice his life for people he doesn't even know? You'll have to read the books to find out. If you're a fan of Quentin Tarantino's films, crime fiction, or violent, crime-based comics, you'll appreciate Son of the Gun. An impressive and emotional story filled with violence and disgust as well as grace and beauty, Jordowsky's story combined with Bess' artwork brings this tale to life. Both creators excel at what they do and Son of the Gun is a perfect example of graphic novels as art.
Be sure to check out more sample pages from this impressive comic, below and be sure to check out Son of the Gun #1: Sinner and Son of the Gun #2: Saint are both available now wherever fine comics and trade paperbacks are sold.
- Jess C. Horsley
- samples provided by Humanoids Publishing
Last edited by JeffSaylor; 06-28-2012 at 08:57 AM.
"Until next time...have FUN with your figures!!"
Jess C. Horsley