Gasolina’s first issue revolved around a mysterious couple who offers to assist in retrieving the kidnapped son of a Mexican sugar cane plantation baron from a small, idol worshipping drug cartel seeking to overtake the black market through intimidation, extreme violence, and ritualistic murder. While slow and difficult to follow at first, the issue established a great deal of intrigue and left me with a desire to learn more about both protagonists and antagonists alike.
So, as I was anxious to see where the story was going, I ventured into the second issue hoping any shortfalls from the first had been identified and corrected. Thankfully, one of my initial concerns was recognized by the development team and addressed in this follow-up issue. Most notably of which, was a reduction of the excessive inclusion of Spanish words within predominantly English dialog. This stylistic choice felt really forced in the first outing and broke the flow of interactions between characters in the first issue.
The biggest shortfall of the dialog technique here is its sharp contradiction to the setting of the title. That is, if the story takes place in Mexico, with a majorly Mexican cast, then it would serve to reason that they would already be speaking Spanish. Therefore, any injection of Spanish words mid-conversation raises questions as to whether the characters are in fact speaking English to each other and felt compelled to transition to “Spanglish”. If so why? This would make sense in an American city where cultural integration makes such mixing of language common, but not in the heart of the Mexican country side.
While present again in this issue, Mackiewicz uses the technique to greater effect. Thereby, improving upon the flow of dialog and making for a more immersive issue. Additionally, he continues to masterfully craft his characters, as scenes serve to both move the plot forward while adding depth to them. For instance, there is a scene in which the female lead (Mal) demonstrates the capacity for viciousness but is interrupted by her lover (Randy), at which point she snaps back to her senses. This momentary slip of psychosis adds to previously established hints at her past as an assassin and Randy’s ability to rescue her from the darkest recesses of her own mind.
Once again, the artwork provided by Niko Walter and Matt Lopes focuses on deep shadows to enhance the colors on the page. Night and darkened interior scenes continue to shine with their cinematic approach of highlighting the eyes of the characters. What I at first found difficult to appreciate, has flourished into an integral part of the story as much of the story takes place at night or within buildings with minimal light intrusion. These two artists understand the mood of the story and their work serves to emphasize the dark plot.
The second outing of the series has improved slighty by zeroing in on a specific plot point, that is, the search for the missing boy and the looming threat of the cartel. And previously noted missteps have been refined to much greater effectiveness. And ultimately, the team has added a suspenseful sense of mystery surrounding the events transpiring in the tale. Thus, successfully garnering the reader’s attention with intrigue and a desire to learn more. As stated in our review of issue one, the story’s characters chemistry and charisma leaves a lasting impression which drives a desire to read follow-up issues to find out what will happen next.
Fans of suspense comics such as The Black Monday Murders and/or 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. With the improvements noted, Gasolina has earned my money for another month but remains far behind other titles in the genre. The potential for this “slow burn” to gradually engulf readers is present, but only time will tell if the story will gain further traction.
Rating: 3.5 Barrels out of 5.0