Rogues!: The Curse of the Chicken (#1 – 2) – El Torres

5 out of 5

How many comics… books… movies… have tried to hit this mark but have missed?  Or just miss, leaving you satisfied but wondering ‘what if’ that one element or two had been in place?  The blend of silly and creativity, some puns and action, tawdry with an actual storyline, characters with quirks and full personalities…  It’s something of a genre blend that, actually, sounds like an 80s movie: that crossover-era with Goonies films where we weren’t quite so instantly jaded by the world but were grown up enough to want something more.  Some modern entertainment tries to present a version of that, but it’s too processed, generally, to feel legit.  Fitting that one of the most natural examples of what I would consider a very American style comes from a non-American writer on an non-American imprint?

Womp womp.

In ‘Rogues!’, thieves / brigands / whatever Bram – our Conan-esque muscleman – and The Weasel – our thong-wearin’ female, get drunk in a tavern and tell the tale of ‘The Curse of the Chicken’, which is mostly what it sounds like – the gang gets cursed with the continual appearance of chickens.  It’s hilariously simple; the classic gag of something innocuous that becomes enragingly bothersome.  And so we spend two issues all chicken a’fluster before B & W find the secret ‘spell’ they need to reverse the curse.  The editing flubs that have marred some other Amigo releases don’t seem present here (this book perhaps being a main focus) and the slightly ‘foreign’ sounding wording works because of the sword and sorcery setting.  But oddly awesome is how easily Torres slinks between meta humor and puns and slapstick.  It’s not a blend that’s made effective easily, especially with English As a Second Language, and yet… it never feels forced, as it did in the recent ‘Nancy’ one-shot.  But our characters are a bit more enjoyable here as well – both are sexpots but it’s a true brother / sister relationship, and an openly caring one.  There’s not a lot of the pointless jibing back and forth only to ‘reveal’ that each character has the other’s back; instead, Torres keeps it pretty up front the whole time, giving us comfort that there’s a reason these Rogues are together and that they’ll always be together.

The change in artists between issue 1 and 2 even works because Juan José Ryp’s ultra-detailed, insanely paneled / angled art sets a nice weighty tone that gives the setting roots, but might’ve the proceedings down overall.  Thus transitioning to Miguel Genlot’s more buoyant art keeps the humorous second portion of our tale afloat and fun.  Fran Gamboa’s (1) / Rubén Rojas’ (2) colors also shine, palettes matched well to each artist and very rich and well-blended… Amigo’s production qualities are awesome.  I hope their sales allow them to keep it up.

Overall, there’s just a sense of unbridled love for these characters (which El Torres speaks to in issue 1’s notes) that makes our introduction to them sing, the slightly foreign flavor to the presentation producing a fresh, new example of a sorely missed wacky mash-up genre.

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