Sunday, 5 July 2015

Strongman, Volume 2: Oaxaca Tapout Review (Charles Soule, Allen Gladfelter)

Charles Soule and Allen Gladfelter reunite for another tale of El Tigre, the superhero luchador, in Oaxaca Tapout! 

El Tigre’s best friend, Bujo, is dying. He wants to spend his last few weeks in his homeland, Mexico, so Tigre takes him back - only to discover Mexico’s changed quite a bit in 35 years! Drinking, donkey shows, and drugs flood the streets and gangsters rule. El Tigre to the rescue! 

I was surprised to see a second Strongman book as the first was a fine standalone piece. The second is decent though definitely not as good as the first which benefitted from its uniqueness. The story is very slow to start with as Tigre catches up on his friend’s condition, what modern Mexico is like, and reminisces about the good old days. 

Once Tigre starts fighting the baddies, it’s basically the same old Strongman as the first - a bit like The Punisher but less bloody and lethal. Tigre has a code of honour! I like that Soule throws a lot of grindhouse and fantasy elements into the mix as well to keep things spicy and interesting. Bujo’s wheelchair becomes an all-purpose fighting machine and the action monster movies Tigre made years ago turned out to have real monsters in them! 

And it’s fun that the luchadors are portrayed as actual superheroes, which is how they look. Tigre’s got his own Batcave, he’s got his mask - which he never removes - and, old man that he is, he’s laying the groundwork for a successor to keep Mexicans safe, etc. 

It’s just never really a very engrossing story. It’s sort of interesting in places but it’s a very so-so read. Unnecessary even, like plenty of sequels! Even Allen Gladfelter’s black and white art looked weaker than the first book’s, like he wasn’t totally into it. I know that's not a very deep analysis but Strongman isn't a very deep series! It revels in its surface texture which can sometimes be enough - sometimes. 

I like Charles Soule, I think he’s a quality comic book writer, but Strongman Volume 2 isn’t one of his must-read successes. Fans of the first book will still have fun with it, it’s good in places, but I think it’s one trip back to the well too many for this character. 

(FYI, this book is only available digitally over at Comixology)

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