It’s very common to see comic book sequels to films but it’s incredibly odd to see a comic book sequel to a film which is not just official, but written by the original film’s writer/director, in this case Quentin Tarantino. Add in the wonderful talent of writer/artist Matt Wagner and this should be an outstanding comic but it’s co-written by Wagner, so I assume Tarantino had the plot and probably some of the dialogue with Wagner beefing it out. The art is by Esteve Polls and it’s very nice, but it’s no Matt Wagner.
As for the story, here’s the official blurb.
Set several years after the events of Django Unchained, Django/Zorro #1 finds Django again pursuing the evil that men do in his role as a bounty hunter. Since there’s a warrant on his head back east, he’s mainly been plying his trade in the western states. After safely settling his wife, Broomhilda, near Chicago, he’s again taken to the road, sending her funds whenever he completes a job. It’s by sheer chance that he encounters the aged and sophisticated Diego de la Vega – the famed Zorro – and soon finds himself fascinated by this unusual character, the first wealthy white man he’s ever met who seems totally unconcerned with the color of Django’s skin… and who can hold his own in a fight. He hires on as Diego’s “bodyguard” for one adventure and is soon drawn into a fight to free the local indigenous people from a brutal servitude, discovering that slavery isn’t exclusive to black folks. In the course of this adventure, he learns much from the older man (much like King Schultz) and, on several occasions, even dons the mask and the whip… of The Fox!
The problem with this comic is that it’s trying hard to be a film and a comic at the same time but the thing is these are two entirely different artforms so contrary to current belief, a comic isn’t just a storyboard for a film, and an film can’t be broken down into a comic easily. It’s one or the other and here’s the problem with Django/Zorro. It opens with a long scene of dialogue as is the case with a lot of Tarantino’s film which in a film would introduce both characters, but readers of comics know exactly who Zorro is and if you’re picking up this comic then you know who Django is. It all comes over as a bit flat as the dialogue would have been better coming from good actors but on the page it doesn’t come alive.
Yes, it’s fun and the action when it comes is fine but it’s a muted Tarantino on display here as he plays in the world of mainstream comics and frankly, comes short. All in all it’s still worth picking up the next issue, partly due to the John Severin inspired art of Polls but it’s a bit too turgid and bland for what should be a defining Tarantino moment as he writes his first comic.