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Strongman Vol. 1 – Review

Strongman begins with a TV commercial for Big Movie Morning which is spotlighting
the films of Tigre a famous at the time 70’s Luchador wrestler. It
highlights his successful movie career and then his sudden disappearance from
the world. We pull away from the TV to find Tigre sitting in a bar in New York,
drinking very early in the morning. Tragedy struck Tigre’s life at some point
and crushed his spirit, but not his strength.

He heads home to his studio apartment and rips the door off
of the hinges, being too incapacitated to work his keys. His landlord rushes
out and busts him saying not only is he behind on rent, but that he’s going to have
to pay for the door. After passing out for a while in a drunken comma there’s a
knock on his free standing door. He puts his mask back on and answers only to
find a woman that bears a resemblance of a lost love. Her name is Maria and she
begs for his help as she is familiar with the stories of Tigre from Mexico
where he would help the people and be their protector. She tells him that their
people are selling their body parts in exchange for money, but that the
operation is dirty and surgeries go poorly with most of them dying for a few
bucks. Tigre tells her that there is nothing he can do and that should she go.

Strongman Vol 1 CoverFrom there Tigre goes to work. You’d be surprised, but he’s
still a wrestler. He puts on an all-black mask and dons the name The Black Demon! His opponent for the
evening is Slugger and he resembles a
member of the Furies from The Warriors which is brilliant and
awesome. Tigre asks the event runner not to have Slugger use the bat on him,
since it hurts him to damn much. The event runner gets in his face and tells
him to shut up and do what he’s told or he’ll get someone else to work for 50
bucks and take the abuse.

They head to the ring and the bout is going as it should
with Tigre getting the crap kicked out of him and the crowd cheering on Slugger.
Tigre has fits of rage that he suppresses unit Slugger breaks out the bat.
Slugger knocks him in the back of the head for real with the bat. Tigre stands
up and takes the bat and breaks it into two with his bare hands. He gives
slugger the option of walking away or going another round with him. Scared
Slugger backs out of the ring. The event runner comes back and instantly gets
into Tigre’s face. Tigre tells him he owes him 50 bucks and then he’ll be on
his way. The event runner chickens out and gives him his money, but bans him
from his company and swears to pass it on so that his career will be finished.

Filled with a sense of being for the first time in as long
as he can remember, Tigre founds the Maria the woman that asked for his help
from before. He tells her that he will find out what’s happening to their
people and where these organs are going to. The next day he busts out his
motorcycle and leather jacket and takes to the streets to track down his first
lead that Maria gave him. Tigre is back and his as bad-ass as ever!

The first volume continues from there as this recap was only
a taste. The story is great on many levels. The first obviously being the
wrestling angle that is plays too. It reminded me of the book from Oni Press
called Super Pro K.O. which was all about wrestling, but failed to
have any sense of emotion and the wrestling was confusing to look at on the
page. Strongman on the other hand uses wrestling as a back drop for a
larger story and the wrestling action is intelligent and easy to follow.

It’s almost a fact at this point that I enjoy writer Charles
Soule’s work, especially his work on 27 from Image Comics. When I
picked this book up from him at c2e2 I loved the idea of the concept
and was curious if it was going to be just as good as 27 was. It’s nearly impossible to compare the two with them being
so different, but Strongman stands on
its own as a great book. The character of Tigre is just fantastic. He’s a
character that you can’t help root for no matter his faults. His life is so
tragic and screwed up that you kind of wonder why he even gets up in the
morning. Hell Tigre himself comes across as wondering that same question, but
he does it. When he really gets going in the story you see just how amazing he
is and that there was a reason that an entire town was behind him and loved
him.

The art by Allen Gladfelter is the perfect match for this
all black-and-white book. His pencils and inking are striking and dynamic. The
page always feels alive with emotion, be it energy and excitement or depression
and sadness. Gladfelter does amazingly consistent work especially on the action
scenes which usually open themselves up for inconsistency. Gladfelter also does
a good job of giving us a lot of the story visually, by conveying the emotions
of the characters. At times Tigre looks so depressed, so lost and then full of
hope and fire; and yet he’s wearing a mask the entire time. That’s how good the
art is, since its able to convey that amount of emotion with just the mouth and
body language of the character.

You can pick up the first volume of the series from a couple
of different places. The first would be from the Publisher Slave Labor Graphics and
the second is from Amazon where you can actually pre-order the second volume as
well. The second volume will be out later this year so if you enjoyed first,
which you should have, then pre-order it from your comic shop or Amazon.
Overall this was one of two great books I picked up at c2e2 and I’m glad that Charles talked to me about it. If you
enjoyed 27 then it’s a safe beat that
you’ll dig Strongman as well.

Overall Score –
9.0/10

Rating
9.0

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