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Sombra #2 Maintains Its Grim Tone With Some Personal Questions

Sombra_002_English_PRESS-5Sombra’s first issue ended with DEA agent Danielle Marlowe and local Mexico City journalist Esteban Tolva trapped under the floorboards of a church while a group of cartel members entered. Led by a man named Rojas, the cartel group knows that the two are in there and promise to lead Esteban to Danielle’s father, the former DEA agent Conrad Marlowe, whom has declared a violent war against the cartel. Trying to figure out an escape plan, Danielle and Esteban sit amongst an uncomfortable purple, blue haze of Juan Useche’s colours, starkly contrasted to the bright yellow, orange from above. Once the bullets start flying, the yellow, orange glow from above mixes with a slight tinge of pink as light streams downwards; its almost as if no matter where you are, an invading force is trying to find a way to mark its territory. This is a comic, like the colours used in this sequence, about parallels and contrasting beliefs.

This duality continues to muddle amongst the conversations Justin Jordan scripts. Assumptions can never be made in a place in which one can never really know what is exactly going on and who has control over the situation. Danielle questions the motives of a group of farmers that help her and Esteban escape, her doubt and untrustworthiness spill out, as her words don’t hold back her assumptive feelings. These farmers once had a stable farm, from the sounds of it, until the cartel, through false promises, took their claim of the land, as they have done with countless villages, and ended with their livelihood in ashes, thanks to the involvement of the DEA. Trust appears very hard to find when the supposed help being offered turns to potential turmoil, no matter who takes control of the land.

Sombra_002_English_PRESS-7Raul Trevino really shows the cartel as the all-encompassing evil, barely being able to see any texture to their faces with how much shadows are drawn overtop. It is as if he doesn’t want you to see any humanity behind their eyes. Before the grotesque moments at the village they are travelling to, a quieter moment captures one of the strongest moments of this series so far. During this travelling sequence, Trevino’s visuals speak further volumes on the words being spoken. Danielle questions the motives of Eduardo, one of the farmers, and why he is helping to protect someone whom works for an organization he doesn’t necessarily trust. But, Eduardo says he has responsibilities. It then cuts to close up frames of the three individual farmers in the truck, as Esteban tells of a story he did on their village. The frame underneath the smaller panels is a wider perspective of the road ahead of them, the trees and sky sharing the space. The land belongs to people like Eduardo and the other villagers Carlos and Arturo. They are constantly used and abused by the passing powers of the cartel. Jim Campbell places the word balloons slightly in front of their vehicle, guiding them and the story towards an unknown fate.

The creative team of Sombra has crafted an issue that improves on the introductory issue. The stakes still feel high and tense, especially with yet another cliffhanger ending, as Jordan likes to do (while he sits and laughs maniacally until the next issue drops, one would imagine). It’s great to see a title that uses the medium to ask relevant questions while maintaining its visual storytelling ability. There is one other scene worth mentioning further that contains some rather poignant words for the violent, irrational happenings around the world. As the group makes their way to a local village, a bloody display of mutilated corpses greets them. Esteban says to Danielle that this can be difficult to see for the first time. Danielle responds by saying, “This should be difficult to see every time.” Esteban says, “I wish that were so. But you can grow accustomed to anything, given time.” One can’t help but wonder whether these words are unfortunately true.

Story: Justin Jordan Art: Raul Trevino Colour: by Juan Useche
Lettering: Jim Campbell Cover: Jilipollo
Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

BOOM! Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review