Indie Comic Review: Torpedo vol. 1

Torpedo – Enrique Sanchez Abuli, Jimmy Palmiotti, Jordi Bernet and Alex Toth – IDW – $17.99

Torpedo is the story of a hard nosed hitman that scratches the itch left un-attended as we wait for the next installment of Darwyn Cooke’s Parker series.

This is the story Luca Torelli, a poor immigrant from Italy who came to New York to find a better life. Instead of a land of milk and honey he found a filthy city that was long on corruption and short on morality, a place filled with predators and human vermin. To survive in such a place, young Luca adapted to his surroundings, lived off his wits, prospered with coldhearted cunning… until he eventually became Torpedo.

Enrique Sánchez Abuli and Jordi Bernet’s masterpiece is a darkly humorous exploration of the criminal underbelly in 1930s New York City. Abduli’s distinctive narrative builds the story over time and Bernet’s masterful renditions of the title character and the city he inhabits are stunningly cinematic.

Torpedo is equal parts Parker and Manara, with tough guys committing brutal crimes before bedding beautiful women. I would say it is like the Sopranos, except Torpedo pre-dates the HBO series by almost twenty years. Luca Torelli is a recent immigrant to the Depression-era United States. His English is not so good and he often does not understand the nuances of what is being said to him. He may screw up his phrases, but he never screws up a hit.

Each of the stories in this volume clock in right around ten pages. Some are darkly humorous. Some are clever. Some are just an excuse to draw a particular set piece or dame. The writing of Torpedo is a bit inconsistent. Sometimes he is cocky like a hard-boiled detective. Sometimes he is just your average joe, no smarter than any other mook. And every so often he is the smartest guy in the room. Far from being annoying, this unevenness in his depiction means that each story is new and fresh. It is impossible to tell at the beginning of the piece just how Torpedo is going to get through to the end. It adds a level of excitement that is missing from other boks where it is obvious and predictable from story to story how the main character will behave.

The real star of the book is the art. Each page adheres to a strict six-panel grid. However, those panels are masterfully created, each one a feast for the eyes. The first two stories are illustrated by the great Alex Toth. His clean lines and balance of darks and lights make the panels sing. However, a disagreement with writer Enrique Sánchez Abulí led to Toth leaving the book after those two stories. He was replaced by Jordi Bernet.

Bernet’s style is slightly different than Toth’s and, dare I say, it fits the book even better. While his line work is similar, his inks are rougher, giving the the streets of New York a gritty quality to match the script. The stories found their groove with Bernet on art duties. With the creative team in place, Torpedo goes from just another tough guy to someone who carves out his own identity rapidly.

Torpedo is just as fresh and exciting today as it was thirty years ago when it debuted. Torpedo proves that sometimes it is good to be the bad guy!

Torpedo is available now. Get a smoking deal on  your copy of Torpedo Volume 1 here.

Check out a 12 page preview: Torpedo_Vol1-Preview

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