Publisher: Image Comics
Story by: Sean Mackiewicz
Art by: Niko Walter
Colors by: Mat Lopes
Often, much can be derived from the title of written works. Particularly, in the comic industry, where competition is stiff on a weekly basis and publishers seek to grab readers with catchy titles that capture the essence of the story contained within. However, when it comes to Image Comics most recent crime drama, Gasolina, there is really no connection between title and plot and that’s unfortunate.
Penned by Sean Mackiewicz, Gasolina centers around a doctor named Randy and his lover Amalia, who is alluded to being an assassin with a reputation for brutality. The two become involved in the attempted recovery of the kidnaped son of their boss, a sugar cane baron from the Mexican country side. As the story progresses, a standard checklist of character tropes are invoked, serving to move the plot forward and eventually leading to an intriguing climax which leaves gaping questions which warrant future attention.
I must admit, this initial outing was difficult to follow on the first read through. In fact, I can’t help but feel there are some panels missing, as some transitions in the dialog take sharp turns that seem unnatural. Additionally, Mackiewicz diplays a repetitive trend of inserting Spanish words into the dialog for no other reason than to emphasize that the characters are Hispanic.
Perhaps it would have served better to either transition fully to Spanish during dialog between Hispanic characters or remain in English as an “auto-translate” type of dialog. Instead, the Spanish wording feels shoehorned in and cliché. Thus, interrupting the flow of the story and detracting from the plot. However, there are one or two instances in which the wording works to provide subtle insight into the characters. At which point, the potential for the technique shines.
The artwork provided by Niko Walter and Mat Lopes is unorthodox, focusing on deep shadows to enhance the colors on the page. Night scenes are expertly rendered and emphasize the eyes which gives the panels a cinematic feel. At first, it is difficult to appreciate. But upon close inspection, the unique craftmanship of both artist and colorist comes to light.
Although one could argue there are opportunities for improvement due to lack of detail and transitional fading, these appear to be intentional artist design choices that grow on you as the story progresses. By the time the story reaches its apex, the artwork finds its groove and adds a great deal of ambiance which enhances the tension of the tale.
Despite some concerns with the writing, Gasolina puts forth and intriguing tale that provides just enough suspense to warrant purchase. Additionally, the story’s characters are charismatic and the mystery of their pasts leaves a lasting impression which drives a desire to read follow-up issues to “fill in the blanks”.
Fans of suspense comics such as The Black Monday Murders and Kill or Be Killed may see this as an off-week filler series with potential for expansion into a full-blown international crime drama centered around drug cartels, black magic, and murder. But as of now, the creative team has some work to do if they wish to garner the same critical acclaim of their contemporaries.
Series Rating: 2.0 Barrels out of 5.0