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Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Complete Classic Adventures of Zorro. Alex Toth. Image Comics (2001)

This is a collection of Zorro stories created by Alex Toth as a spin off from Disney's 1950s television series. They follow the classic story of Zorro, who by day is the foppish Senor Diego De La Vega, son of one of the richest men in Spanish California, by night he is El Zorro, the Fox, who fights injustice and corruption. His main opponents are Captain Monastario and the bumbling Sergeant Garcia. Zorro is a master sword fighter, rides a beautiful and spirited black stallion, Tornado and has the assistance of his mute manservant Bernardo. Zorro is a mixture of Batman and Robin Hood, the man of action hiding under the disguise of a rich layabout coward, fighting for justice for the poor and oppressed. The stories are good fun, lots of action and close shaves. One story does deal directly with the nature of Zorro's secret identity and resolves it very neatly. The rest of the stories are undermined by the sheer stupidity of Zorro's opponents.
The real draw of the book is the art by Alex Toth which is full of energy and motion. The details are suggested rather than provided, the faces are frequently reduced to the minimal required to identify the character, except for the close-ups. Any greater level of detail would not improve the art, the dynamic action in the panels and the expressive lines deliver the story at the speed it requires. The art hurries you through the stories as it should, there are action stories, their heart is forward momentum not reflection. The art captures this and expresses it with force. The art is much better than the stories deserve, it is the weakness of the stories that ultimately makes this collection unsatisfying. Conics are a balance between writing and art, that balance is off in these stories. This collection is well worth reading, good fun, great art, so-so comics.

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