Monday, April 14, 2014

Advance Review: Benito Mambo - Christian Durieux

Edition : Oversized Deluxe Edition
120 pages - 10 x 13 inches - Color
EAN 9781594650857
$34.95 - £19.99
Benito Mambo's release date is April 30, 2014. So when that date comes, buy it here!

And thus starts Benito's adventure as a Mambo dancer. Right away Durieux shows us a peek of the world that Benito inhabits. The world that's very restricting and exhausting and filled with "adulthood". Benito wants nothing to do with that world and because of that, he is thrown into a pit to die. Within the pit Benito is visited by his unknown savior:

As you can tell Benito Mambo is fill with outlandish caricatures and situations. Actually, almost every page, every panel is filled with outlandish characters and situations. Durieux almost never gives us time to relax and keeps us moving from joke to another, one crazy situation to another, one outlandish character to another. One would think that Durieux would run out of jokes/situations/characters but he doesn't and he keeps bombarding us with them. This bombardment never overwhelms the reader; it's actually quite essential to the story. It matches the almost breakneck speed of Benito's journey and quick-draw dialogue of the characters.

Durieux can really build up to a joke. Something that might seem as throw away comes back with a hilarious fury. When Durieux is not building a joke, he can pull off amazing six to nine-panel gags that leave you laughing for a while. Each joke and gag feeds off each other and builds on top of each other, so by the end you have multiple jokes going on, each running off each other; it's amazing to read.

Benito Mambo is also filled with just beautiful single splash pages. Durieux masterfully builds up to these splash pages that when the reader comes across it, POW! You're taken aback by its beauty and color. This level of beauty is something we see regularly throughout Benito Mambo especially with the vivid and at lush colors that Durieux uses. Durieux's colors beautifully capture the everyday absurdity that these characters go through.

One thing that really bugged me about Benito Mambo was that the only female (her name is Angelica)  in the comic was never given much agency. Angelica is seen as a motivator, a goal point for Benito to grab. Angelica is used to making Benito strive for something better. It also doesn't help that Angelica locked up and out of sight (literally, they're a shades that cover her cage) for most of the comic. For someone who's a major player and motivator for our main character, I wish she was given more depth and complexity. Even most of the secondary characters get more depth than her. Yes, she does fight back from her captors and gets some nice shots in but that's it! Nothing more! I wish Durieux fleshed her out more in Benito Mambo.

Even with this problem, Benito Mambo is still worth your time. It brings to the table a magical fable about mambo dancing, humor, and individuality through an absurdest filter. Benito Mambo is a great spring read and a comic that will you leaving smiling for the entire day.

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