Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today’s page is from Matador #2, which was published by Wildstorm (during the DC years) and is cover dated August 2005. Enjoy!
Matador is a decent-enough mini-series, even though it does get a boost from Brian Stelfreeze, who doesn’t draw enough comics, if you ask me. Devin Grayson’s writing is okay, but the art is the real reason to get this book, which follows Isabel Cardona, a Miami detective, in her quest to prove that the Matador, a mysterious assassin, actually exists. That dude standing in front of her gun is said Matador, but of course he disappears before anyone else shows up. Poor Izzy!
Obviously, there are no words on this page, so who knows how much input Grayson had in Stelfreeze’s layout. It’s a tense page nevertheless, as we begin with Izzy’s eyes, looking from the left to the right of the top panel. Even in such a limited space, Stelfreeze manages to show how terrified Izzy is – the eyes aren’t too wide, and the coloring softens them somewhat so they’re not cruel (as the eyes in Panel 2 are), plus the glimpse of Izzy’s eye brow shows worry rather than rage. Directly from her left eye streams music – the Matador whistles while he works – which help draw our eye from the left to the right. There’s nothing on the right, of course, but because that’s how we read a book, presumably that’s why Stelfreeze does it instead of trying to move our eye downward, where the next panel begins. We move zig-zag to Panel 2 and Izzy’s gun, which does lead to something – the Matador’s forehead. This is another interesting panel – the gun takes us where we want to go, and Stelfreeze shows us the assassin up close. In contrast to Izzy (who’s not really ready for this situation), the Matador’s eyes look angry yet totally in control. His tilted brows suggest barely-controlled rage, and the brightness of his blue eyes makes his piercing gaze stronger than Izzy’s cowering stare. Izzy has the gun placed against his forehead, but in these two panels, Stelfreeze makes it clear who’s in control. The Matador also directs our eyes to Panel 3 – he’s looking downward at Izzy in that panel, so our eyes naturally follow him. We get a wide shot of their situation, and while we can see that Izzy doesn’t look like someone who takes shit (and, over the course of the book, she takes less and less), but she’s still confronted with something she doesn’t quite understand (the Matador seems to have some kind of paranormal abilities). Her slightly frizzy hair and open mouth, along with those eyes, suggest that she’s at a loss, while even though we don’t see the Matador’s face, he stance implies power and dominance. His shadow almost eclipses Izzy, which is a nice touch. The way her face is bisected by shade seems to suggest that his shadow on the wall shouldn’t be unbroken, but it’s a good visual by Stelfreeze, so I don’t mind too much. Again, Izzy stands to the left and points the gun to the right, priming us to move on in the book.
This is a tense encounter, one that doesn’t work out too well for Izzy (the Matador easily disarms her) but which gives her a taste of how she’s going to need to deal with him. It’s a good way to begin the comic, because if we’re picking it up without having read issue #1, it throws us right into the story and makes us wonder who these people are and how they reached this point. It might not be a great comic, but it’s done pretty well. Even if Izzy is wearing weird pants.
Only a few more days to nominate a writer-artist team that you want to see in August! Keep them coming, because depending on the votes, you can still make a difference! Remember: two separate people working on at least 25 issues together. Them’s the rules, peeps!
Next: Man, I apologize for even owning this comic. But maybe the first page will be a good one! If not, there’s always the archives!