DC Comics 2016
Written by Ken Pontac
Illustrated by Leonardo Manco
Coloured by Mariana Sanzone
Lettered by Sal Cipriano
I’m a huge supporter and fan of this series. It’s creative, innovative and a completely different look at these characters. Ken has infused Mad Max and Death Race into this viable comic book story full of familiar characters whose personalities and reasons for racing are as varied and different as they are. With the mysterious Announcer calling the shots and having imbued their cars with sentience the racers believe they are racing for a place in Nirvana but the reality is probably so much different.
This issue the racers find themselves in Vegas. This is after the latest race has ended at the Hoover Dam. There’s an interesting thing that happens on the opening page and of all people it’s Dick Dastardly that notices it and wants to explore it more. The Announcer however yeah that’s some attitude coming Dick’s way. Gotta say I like it though as well as his assessment of Vegas, more for our benefit than the racers as they are going to do whatever they want to do if we’ve seen anything so far in this series.
This time around the spotlight is on Red. His past is brought to life here and we get a better understanding of him, who he is and what he’s been through. Also why this issues events play out the way they do. Ken does an excellent job tying his background into the main story so that things make sense, play out nicely and have this weird bond that the racers have with one another on display.
I’m loving Leonardo’s work on the interiors. Though to be honest I kind of missed that opening with all the cars and who’s who. Still the way he brings the cars, racers and the denizens of Vegas to life, including the Comb-Overs which is absolutely hysterical. He and Mariana do this magnificent job making this so dark and foreboding while still infusing so much detail into the work. There’s a life and expression from the pages that you don’t find elsewhere and he really utilises the page layouts, angles and perspective incredibly well.
This is one of my absolute favourite re-imaginings of a cartoon, or any other franchise, that I’ve ever seen. Ken has taken this and ran with it in ways that not only make it stand out in the crowd but entertain you with both nostalgia for something that was nothing like this as well being fresh and original. Yes it has elements from other things but hey what doesn’t these days and what he does with it may have that passing resemblance but in the end stands alone as it’s own unique identity.
That there’s a story and a mystery behind the racing only adds to heighten the drama and the racers have to know on some level that this whole thing is rigged. It wouldn’t surprise me that this whole race was set up by some secret organisation so that they could bet on races and enjoy this whole thing at someone else’s expense. We’ll find out though as the series rockets towards it’s conclusion. Depending on that outcome I sincerely hope this isn’t the last arc we’ll get because this has been one of the years true bright spots in comics.