Torpedo by Sanchez Abuli and Jordi Bernett.
Writer (S): Sanchez Abuli
Artist (s): Jordi Bernet
US Publisher: IDW
Short stories and almost all are self-conclusive, about a gangster named Luca Torelli dealing and dwelling in New York City in the 1930’s. Very Graphic, very ADULT, and very FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY.
What a great supplement/compliment to my post on appreciation for European comic! This new release from IDW publishing, in luxury format, covering the quintessential work done by the duo of Abuli and Bernet on early Americana is a total thrill to read and own!
These two Spaniards have been pros working from the trenches since memory serves me, but like most Spanish artists at the end of the 20th century they gained prominence and exposure in the El Totem and Comix International, the Spanish version of the Warren Magazine published by Toutain Editors.
I had been introduced to Torpedo by a Spanish friend in the late 80’s and had to wait till it got published in the US I think in the early 1990’s. I recall picking up an album of Torpedo then with the thrill of getting re-acquainted with a long lost lover, taking it home and savoring it over and over again in the course of a couple of weeks, rekindling my love for comics that the Marvel and DC industries of the 90’s had almost ripped from my soul.
Torpedo is introduced to us to us in short snippets, with the staccato of a ruthless tommy-gun , usually in 8-10 pages stories, that hit you like a flash of gunpowder, with brutality and a degree of rawness that may catch more than one reader unprepared.
The world of Torpedo is the a reflection of everything that is wrong in the world, where a moral compass is a luxury that very few can afford, and where a wrong stare or a word out of context may result in a life lost in a dark alley, or worse.
Another thing that I adore (and other people hate) is the lack of timeline on the stories of Torpedo. Few authors can get away with what Bernet and Abuli pull in the continuity department, but all you get to infer regarding the time period is usually what you ascertain by the surrounding narrative, for example the Spanish civil war just started, or that Roosevelt is announcing a new deal, or that the Volstead Act has just been passed.
The authors compose a storyline of Luca and in different stories full of flashbacks, and eventually get to witness a brutal childhood in Sicily, full of incestuous relations, hate , violence, abuse and murder.
With this tapestry woven, it becomes easier for us to understand the ruthlessness of the main character, an Anti-hero that we, more often than not and even despite ourselves, we wind up rooting for.
There are no valid moral conventions here. If a woman looks good and she is vulnerable, she likely will be raped. If a con man is not really smart and pulls the con on the wrong mark, he will be killed. In the world of Bernet and Abuli, if you are not the toughest sonfoabitch, someone will shoot you in the eye, and rape you in the eyesocket. It is so much so that the few moral characters that appear, (A priest, a anti-liquor proponent, a nun, etc) are typically used as comedic relief when contrasted with the cast of stark and grim characters that populate these stories.
The script of Sanchez Abuli has that perfect synergy with the art of Jordi Bernet that you seldom find in comic books, and when you do, it usually is in a masterpiece. Jordi Bernet has researched New York city depression era to a compulsion. Clothes are sharp, shoes are proper, cars are of the period, the phones, the telegraph, the weapons, the subway system….Jordi Bernett portrays here the New York that is being built on the backs of the immigrants and the working class. Luca and his sidekick Rascal live in dumps, where we can almost hear the pipes screaming and the old iron-cast heating pipes whistling, and the only bouts with luxury they encounter is when they approach someone who is working even further away from the law than they are, and thus they have hit it big. In some scripts Abuli uses time devices, such as telegraph or period cars, in a way that carry the story like no other device could, and it shows how much thought and care the writer has put into the subject matter.
Bernet draws hard faces, hard bodies, hard lives. The men are chiseled, the women gorgeous, the kids adorables, and the pets heartwarming, but then Abuli changes the tempo in this opera, and their expressions changes, the light draws intimidating shadows on their profiles, and we know that cordite and sulfur will be the only scents left in our fingertips when we turn the page, and the gunfight is over.
The biggest sore point is how often things get lost in translation. The translation is pretty good, and the guys at IDW have done a marvelous job, but something do loose power and hilarity because they have to be carried over from Spanish to English, and even some word-play gets lost in the delivery.
Torpedo is one of those few pieces of comic masterpieces that I would buy in the most luxurious format thinking that whatever they charged me is not enough and I am making out like a bandit.
That’s why I welcome this hardcover luxury edition.
The only thing that to my taste would’ve made it yet even better, is if they had someone like Frank Miller (Of sin city) write a preface, or even some interviews with Abuli and Bernet in the inside.
So, on my Critic’s rating, Torpedo gets
9 1/2 STARS