El Diablo

El Diablo

El Diablo

I have a confession to make. A few weeks ago a friend of mine put me in touch with Jai Nitz, scripter on DC Comic’s El Diablo limited series. I agreed to write a review. I read the comics, stuffed them in an envelope and forgot about them.

The review crossed my mind a couple of times, but I put it off. Perhaps part of my problem was that I told Mr. Nitz I would provide a positive-focussed review, but I found issues with the comic’s violent content.

Sometimes it’s difficult for me to separate my role as a critic from my role as a censor. Both are necessary. I review books and comics. It’s my responsibility to equip readers with the information they need to make an informed decision.

But I’m also a husband and a father – a morally conservative one. It’s my responsibility to control the flow of media in my house. I find it difficult to recommend a book I wouldn’t normally read myself.

El Diablo is a six issue series from DC Comics, telling the story of gangster-cum-vigilante Chato Santana. Jai Nitz, who has also written issues of The Batman Strikes!, Blue Beetle and Marvel Comic’s X-Men Unlimited, provides the script. Phil Hester and Ande Parks provide the art.

El Diablo #1 opens with Chato caught in a crooked deal gone bad. There’s lots of violence and excessive amounts of blood, but not anything too unusual for DC’s current line of comics. Chato finds himself under police custody in the hospital, unable to walk.

When he refuses to turn state’s evidence on his former associates, the police leak a rumor guaranteed to get him killed. He is saved from death by an ancient and mysterious man and rises from the hospital bed to claim revenge.

Chato makes a deal with Hell to be its assassin and sets out to battle demonic spirits. But the hunter is also the hunted. A possessed man called Vorpal seeks El Diablo to enact his own revenge.

The story is well plotted and makes good use of the history and setting of the DC universe. There are plenty of twists and engaging characters to hold the reader’s interest.

The art – if you can get past the gore which worsens as the issues progress – has a gritty feel to it which seems to cross modern reality with the darker fare of old westerns. The varied settings, from the city streets to the desert of the American Southwest, create a fitting backdrop to the conflict within Chato Santana.

This comic is definetly not for the kiddies. A previous El Diablo series was published under DC’s Vertigo imprint for adults. Perhaps this one should have been as well. I supppose those of us who don’t like it can choose not to read it, but it’s not the kind of thing you want to leave around the house.

Jai Nitz’s writing shows promise, and I want to see more of his work in the future. I hope he’ll forgive me for being slow in reviewing El Diablo. All six issues are now available. To find a comics retailer in your area visit the Comic Shop Locator Service.

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About James A Woods
Freelance Writer, Constant Learner, Family Man

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