There’s been a long history of comics and wrestling locking up – it must be something to do with the colourful costumes and the idea of good versus evil battling it out. The latest comic to step into the squared circle is El Marvo, the debut book from Hawk and Cleaver Comics, featuring art from Vanguard’s Dan Butcher – but can this comic deliver a power slam or will it be counted out?
Publisher: Hawk and Cleaver comics
Writer: Ben Errington, Luke Kondor
Artist: Dan Butcher, Will Robson (Cover), Vincent Cyril (Cover Colours)
Set in a far off, post apocalyptic future where only the country of Muck now remains standing, El Marvo tells the story of a Luchador wrestler, who is missing a leg and placed in Cryosleep, and is awoken in this hellish new world when a pair of freedom fighters discover him whilst attempting to evade the forces of a group loyal to the evil Sokrates (led by an crazy evil dude called 8-Ball). Now, free and confused in this brutal future, El Marvo travels with the idealistic Go Get ‘em Girl and the Mercenary Knuckle Duster, hoping to liberate Muck from the bad guys who control it.
El Marvo is a really fun read, which from the get go doesn’t feel the need to take itself too seriously. Writers Ben Errington and Luke Kondor have created a story which feels like an 80’s action film in comic form with it’s mix of over the top action (such as the Batman ‘66-esque fight sequence) and ludicrous humour (the focus on the villainous Snakeskin’s new nickname). There’s also hints of classic 2000 AD epic the Cursed Earth in the post apocalyptic landscape.
The artwork from Vanguard’s Dan Butcher is really strong throughout, and given his 80’s film knowledge on the Awesome Comics Podcast, he seems like the perfect choice for this over the top tale. He proves it with some seriously cool action scenes throughout including the awesome (almost) full page panel of the elevator shaft escape scene, as well as the really slick, past to present transition during the wrestling match which looks just awe-inspiring. What really makes the art (and these particular scenes) really pop though are the colours, allowing the interiors to almost match the Joe Maduriera inspired cover Will Robson and Vincent Cyril provide.
Although all of this nostalgia and goofy action makes for a laugh out loud read with some great little touches (the zombie workforce who are still committed to their jobs for example), it does mean that El Marvo lacks any kind of depth to the plot as the characters appear to just wander aimlessly between situations. While this is fine for a first issue, it doesn’t make it feel like it has much forward momentum which is a shame, considering the hype behind this first issue. Also, the titular character comes across as very underused, taking a back seat to his ‘supporting’ cast, some of whom do feel a little cliched.
Despite these few niggling problems, El Marvo is a visually stunning and well executed debut for a new character and new writers, which could develop into something really special now it’s framework has been set in place. While this comic may have a greater resonance with readers who lived and revelled in the stories of the 1980’s, if you are looking for something light-hearted to just switch off to, then El Marvo may just take the Championship belt there.