Thursday, November 6, 2008

Review: El Diablo #3

DC has been giving new life to some of its older characters for a while now, and Western hero El Diablo is the latest to be resurrected from the four-color graveyard. These kinds of updates are notoriously hit-or-miss, but overall I've been digging the new series written by Jai Nitz (with pencils by Phil Hester and inks from Ande Parks), and this week's El Diablo #3 is no exception.

At the heart of the action is Chato, a recently cursed gang leader and the newest Diablo who is trying to get even with the former right-hand man who betrayed him. Aided by a ghostly Lazarus Lane (the original El Diablo), Chato essentially tramples and shoots his way through the L.A. underworld in search of revenge.

I think Chato has a lot of potential as a complex character, and in this issue Nitz has done a good job of laying out a lot of the groundwork for exploring that. It's worth remembering that Chato was a hardcore criminal before becoming El Diablo and he definitely is an anti-hero here, doing things mostly out of a need to satisfy his own desire for blood and killing anybody in his way. I'm curious to see what direction he's going to take after the new status quo established in this issue, especially in terms of what he plans to do with his power in the future.

As it stands, Chato is nearly a sociopath, killing without a second-thought, and that's featured pretty clearly in the opening pages of issue #3. That doesn't bother me, but I think Nitz has a choice to make here: Either Chato needs something to humanize him, or the creators should just go all the way with it and let El Diablo be an otherworldly spirit of vengeance.

Personally, I like that the creators are taking things in a thoroughly modern, non-stop and ruthless direction. And man, was there a lot of story for one issue! It almost bordered on crowded with everything that was going on, but the story moves along at a relentless clip and never feels bogged down or confused. Hester's artwork — angular and energetic — works well with the storyline and captures the intensity of the action. Add in the subplot, a nemesis and a newly introduced villain and I wonder: How the hell are they going to wrap it up in the three issues that are left?

And as I mentioned in a previous blog post, I like this New West thing going on in the DCU. Between El Diablo, Blue Beetle and Manhunter (still can't believe that was canceled), some new avenues for stories with a different spin have been opened up. I like the idea that El Diablo — a tortured, Latino, paraplegic hero from L.A. — could be a part of that.


Siskoid said...

Set me down as another El Diablo fan!

Maxo said...

I really would like to see more once this series wraps up — c'mon, he rode his horse UPSIDE DOWN on the ceiling! How is that not awesome?