Brilliant Twists Blend Crime And Horror In Gasolina Vol. 1 From Skybound/ Image

by Brendan M. Allen

Fugitives. Rebels. Newlyweds. Amalia and Randy have played many roles in order to survive. Now, they must become unlikely leaders in the fight against a new cartel, who unleash monsters on their enemies to ignite the most inhuman war Mexico—and the world—has ever seen. Everything burns in this new series from SEAN MACKIEWICZ and NIKO WALTER, where love and devotion can only be measured in fire and blood.

Back in September 2017, Skybound’s Editor-in-Chief Sean Mackiewicz threw his hat into the writing ring with an all new horror/crime epic Gasolina. Mackiewicz teamed with artist Nico Walter, colorist Mat Lopes, and letterer Rus Wooten to take a fresh look at two well worn genres by smashing them together and rearranging the pieces.
Gasolina Vol. 1 opens in a cane field with a tender scene between newlyweds Amalia and Randy. Leaving their sketchy pasts behind them to live simply as farmers, the lovers almost immediately run up against a dangerous new cartel known simply as Los Queridos (The Beloved). Using a variety of horrific, inhumane tactics and weapons, Los Queridos quickly gain a foothold in the local arena.

Gasolina is one of those stories that hardly gives you time to get your bearings before shifting into high gear. There’s nearly three whole pages of the mushy stuff before violence breaks out. Instead of beating us over the head with exposition, Mackiewicz gives us a solid look at the newlyweds’ current situation with solid dialogue and realistic interaction. The past Randy and Amalia have fought so hard to bury will get peppered in through several flashback sequences throughout the series, as the information becomes relevant to the current storyline.

Artwork by Niko Walter is spectacular. He absolutely nails everything the script calls for. From labyrinthine patterns on the belly of a dead beetle to vacant stares in the eyes of half a dozen disembodied human heads, the details are eerily accurate. Walter is known for adding tension and a creepy vibe from his previous work on Demonic with Christopher Sebela. He delivers on every bit of his reputation in Gasolina.

Of course, the greatest linework in the world doesn’t resonate with readers without the skill set of a brilliant colorist. Fortunately, Mat Lopes’ expert palette is on display in Gasolina. There are a few things that I am particularly critical of when it comes to color. Flames. Everywhere. They love to burn stuff in this book, and the flames look almost too real. Shadows. Many scenes in Gasolina take place in low lighting or with multiple, shifting light sources, and Lopes nails the shadow play. Blood. There are a couple scenes in Gasolina where blood is EVERYWHERE. Fresh blood on human skin and dried blood on a T-shirt have completely different appearances in real life. It’s a hard thing to hit in comics art. In the pages of Gasolina, blood castoff, transfer, contact, drops, and pools all look fantastic.

Gasolina is a tough book to get a read on. That’s the brilliance of this genre bender. Both of the main themes are so familiar, there are tons of points in the script where you think you know what’s coming, and a brilliant twist pops up. Just when you feel like you’re going to get out ahead of this thing, Mackiewicz throws a hook that’ll rock you onto your heels.

Gasolina Vol.1 SC collects Gasolina #1-6, published by Image Comics/Skybound Entertainment, releases on the 28th of March 2018. Created by Sean Mackiewicz (script) and Niko Walter (art), colored by Mat Lopes, letters by Rus Wooten.

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