Alan Dracon (#1 – 2) – Stefano Martino

4 out of 5

I’ll be honest: I’ve been approaching any non-El Torres Amigo projects with some trepidation.  Torres’ has brought some conceptually interesting books to his publishing house, but they’re often saddled with bumpy artwork that gets support (inkers, colorists) swapped mid-series, and / incredibly clunky writing, whether written directly in English  or when translated.  And in the latter case, unless Torres himself is doing the translating, it’s generally even worse, with some poorly construed narration / dialogue and many typos.

So we’ve got a writer / artist for Alan Dracon: Stefano Martino.  The costuming of our lead – a sci-fi bodyguard-for-hire – is definitely a little goofy, but it’s also got a Simonson flair that’s further reflected in some of Martino’s block shadows and splash pages.  The story also rolls out without any bumps over the first couple of pages, setting up Dracon’s current job protecting some scientists from some mutated threat, and I note that Torres is on translation duties, but more than that: the moderately hard-boiled first person narration is well written and well paced, and makes for an intriguing mish-mash with the near future setting.  Martino isn’t overusing his words – often a problem with these books, desperate for tone – but dropping in just enough to sprinkle in some hints of things to come, and also to flesh out Dracon’s personality a bit.  We like him; he’s serious with the right degree of snarky – acknowledging that he’s not invincible while also confident in his skills.  The art is similarly quality, with the between-Simonson moments bearing some Image notes (like Silvestri) but in a much more clean-lined affectation, somehow straddling a classic 80s look with that 90s influence.  The female scientist that Dracon is protecting has a believable voice, but she’s still essentially damseled – even if Stefano tries to lampshade it – and Dracon’s falling in love with her doesn’t feel earned; she’s hot, so he’s got the hots for her.  You can keep mentioning her green eyes, but that still ain’t exactly enough to sell me on her being a One True Love.

Thankfully, at this point in the story, the Hero doesn’t get to automatically swoop in and win the girl, and so we’re instead mostly focused on the two-issue arc of mutants and scientists, and it’s quite a bit of fun the whole way through.