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Sombra #3 Reveals Its Heart of Darkness

sombra_003_english_press-3Sombra, from the very beginning, has been a tale of good and evil, light and dark, and those that believe what they are doing has a justifiable purpose in it, even if from the other side, the morals around what is being justified are highly questioned. Justin Jordan’s scripts have been doing a great job at this push and pull between right and wrong.

For instance, Danielle, the determined DEA agent, is sent on a mission she almost knows pits her as the bait. Danielle recognizes what is a justifiable right through her American upbringing and an upholder of the law. She is now face to face with her mission: Conrad Marlowe. Conrad is not only a defected DEA agent whom made it his own modus operandi to take down the cartels through very violent tactics; he is also Danielle’s father. Can Danielle overcome this familial fact in order to right a wrong she believes is ultimately doing more harm than it’s supposedly worth?

Raul Trevino’s illustrations are at their best so far in the series with this issue. The choices in panel movements are smart, placing the eye lines at the right spots to accelerate the tension during the last sequence (there is an especially haunting frame that is like a warped version of a Norman Rockwell painting), put an emphasized focus on the faces of Danielle and Conrad as he shows her around the ‘utopian’ place him and his people call home and draw attention to the innocent faces of the various children. Conrad is drawn very square, imposing and firm; one look at his full profile in a well-placed long frame, with his black shirt, green pants and military style boots acknowledges his importance and status. This very frame is unsettling due to not only Conrad’s presence but also of tiny miniature, perhaps carved, people hanging from a wrapping of green ivy, covered in bright pink flowers and next to his boots, the children that run freely, happily around, appear even smaller. Jim Campbell’s word balloon, with Jordan’s simple but effective line of “You think I’m a monster,” is the cherry on the top of this moment. Juan Useche’s colouring of the bright pink and blue sky in the background additionally act as a great, almost ironic parallel to the reality represented through Conrad’s stance.

sombra_003_english_press-6Speaking of Useche, his colouring is easily the standout attribute to this issue. The bright colours of the children’s clothing, the buildings, the spray-painted happy faces, and the open blue sky all connect with Conrad’s speech to Danielle of the new purpose he is trying to build for the people here. The brightness of the scene and use of a more vibrant colour scheme all act as masks to the supposed purity of a utopian world. Some places are utopian on the surface, only to truly survive through dystopian means (just read 1984 or Brave New World). Danielle just won’t buy any of what Conrad is trying to sell her, even after Conrad shows a warmer side to him as helps up a young girl who trips and falls. The whole sequence plays out like a PSA for some random cult. The back and forth between Conrad and Danielle ends with a great transition, just after Danielle says, “I’ve seen enough.” The brightness of day cuts to the next frame of Danielle sitting alone at night within an enclosed jail cell; the thick, black darkness tells no lies, only truths. In the world of Sombra, lies hide in the wide-open sprawl of the day, while at the night, the harsh but true reality comes to life.

Conrad’s mission, without getting too deep into spoiling the story, is contradictory. But, there is a point being made in what Jordan scripts through him. The speech Conrad makes about identifying as a monster reflects back to all Americans, as he says. The privileged and justifiable means to the laws America imposes on places like Mexico only make things worse and end up rewarding the “evil men.” Conrad believes what he has done and aims to do is justifiable, as a defected American. There is yet another parallel to what can be drawn out here through the character of Kurtz in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. Whether this is intentional or not, it is interesting to note of the connections that can be drawn out here. Sombra #3 lashes out its political tongue, focusing on some relevant back and forth topics that should cause a conversation on what exactly does it mean to be in the right, committing to a so-called moral decision that has a justifiable backing to it, especially when an outsider imposes on a world they believe can be solved through questionable means.

Story: Justin Jordan Art: Raul Trevino Colours: Juan Useche Letters: Jim Campbell
Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

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

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