Review: Heavy Metal #275

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Publisher: Heavy Metal
Writers: Alberto Calvo, Abraham Martínez, Dr. Stain Rivero, Bernardo Fernández, Santiago Casares, R.G. Llarena, Enrique “Spike” G. Puig, Homero Ríos, Erika Lewis, Fernando Gonzalez
Art: Omar Trucu Estévez, MoraMike, José Quintero, Axel Medellín, Jorge F. Muñoz, Oscar Bazal, Mario Guevara, Salvador Velázquez; Enid Balám, J.K. Woodward
Colours: Dr. Stain Ortiz, Aburtov, Raúl Manriquez, Emmanuel Ordaz
Lettering: JAME, Felipe Sobreiro, Renato Guerra, Deron Bennet

 

The historic Heavy Metal magazine celebrates its 275th issue with a “Cyberpunk Meets Magic Realism Special” – whatever this means. 10 stories, 10 authors, 10 artists. And a couple of galleries.

In the first story, New Moon Rising, writer Alberto Calvo and artist Omar Trucu Estévez bring us straight into (future) Mexico City, a metropolis that keeps evolving while never forgetting its past. It focuses on a brother and a sister facing some scary omens; a story that’s not exactly straightforward to an absent-minded reader but simple enough once one decides to focus on it without getting excessively distracted by the gorgeous art.

The Eyes of Itzam, by Abraham Martínez with art by MoraMike (that is, Miguel Mora), has us follow a Mr. Bec (short for Becquer), apparently an archaeologist who is also an internet celebrity: the first sequence in the story is shown as if we were watching it through Facebook, including a location marker (we are in Chiapas, in Mexico) and the well-known “Like” symbol. Bec seems to have cameras mounted on his specs (or are they over his eyes?) and uses hashtags when talking. No idea how this is possible, but it makes sense in context. After a steamy night with his beautiful host (also broadcast live on a special, subscribers-only channel), he goes looking for Itzam, an ancient river deity. The story is peculiar, very interesting, its concept would deserve a much longer development; the art is not excessively ornate but absolutely stunning. And the ending of the story… well, I won’t spoil it for you, but it’s definitely worth reading.

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We then find a beautiful gallery by artist José Quintero, very peculiar works of art; most of them feature the traditional iconography of Death, almost always accompanied by Little Buba – a cartoonish child. Francisco Lugo Kampe wrote a short text to accompany them.

Taxi, written by Dr. Stain Rivero (translated into English by Alberto Calvo) with art by the same Omar Trucu Estévez whose work we admired in the first story, takes us to a non-specified city at a non-specified time, where a taxi driver picks up a fare in the middle of the night: a beautiful woman. After a few panels, we understand that the woman is death; the taxi driver… well, he does not. An interesting tale.

Bernardo Fernández, with art by Axel Medellín, tells us that Trees Feel no Rage. In an apparently Hispanic city (where, however, all policemen have English-sounding family names) at some point in the future, a group of pretty violent Police agents break into some… some place looking for a man called Visum, the prime suspect in some crime. Their leader manages to find the person he’s looking for, but he is up for a major surprise. And the reader will get an even better one in this very weird but great story, complemented by outstanding art.

The Data Mule, written by Santiago Casares and illustrated by Jorge F. Muñoz, brings us back to Mexico City in a time very similar to the present. Airplanes, smartphones… In this version of the Mexican metropolis, however, the sky has been dark since the shooting of Armando Buenrostro, the leader of a revolutionary movement inspired by Emiliano Zapata (or rather, by his ghost) – or so we are told. But the people, lost in their individual electronic worlds, haven’t even realised it. Our main character is there in order to change this. Casares’s unusual style, that vaguely reminds of Paolo Bacilieri’s, perfectly matches the tension and peculiarity of this interesting story, that has a beautiful open end.

Izel, by R.G. Llarena with art by Oscar Bazal, is told from the point of view of what we understand to be Death, visiting a young girl named Izel who has been seeing him/her/it hovering over her for some time. Soon we realise that Izel is not as young or as innocent as she appeared at first. It is a poetic, sad, beautiful story.

The next story, set at some point in the future at the Monumento a la Revolución (Monument to the Revolution) in Mexico City, is called Untopia and comes to Heavy Metal and therefore to us through the pen of Enrique “Spike” G. Puig and the pencil of Mario Guevara. What simply seems to be a simple generation clash between two young people who hope to change things with protests and vandalism and an older, quieter man is interrupted by a series of events that bring us to a fantastic, somehow scary world where many creatures speak in binary code (in a situation that vaguely recalls The Matrix)… and ends in a very puzzling way.

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The Outsider, by Homero Ríos and Salvador Velázquez, takes us all the way to 3013. Geographically, we only know we are on Earth. An android, calling itself “Techno-Prophet” starts healing people and preaching peace and harmony, while everyone thinks he’s really there to steal the people’s minerals – the only things they own. He gets assaulted… but by doing so, the people in that village set in motion certain consequences that everyone will have to pay for. Yes, because the Techno-Prophet is nothing else than… no, I will not spoil the surprise for you. I’ll just add that the story is brilliant and the art is even more so.

The stories are interrupted by another gallery of beautiful art, this time by Enid Balám; it is fantastic cyberpunk stuff, worth spending quite some time on.

The 49th Key (part three) by Erika Lewis and J.K. Woodward is… well, a part of a story. For once it’s not futuristic or technological. In a beautifully painted story, three characters (one of which is a small child) are running from… someone, taking shelter… somewhere. A few pages, but so nice to read; their story seems to be extremely interesting, too. There will be a part four (and possibly more, who knows).

We conclude with Motorcycle by Fernando Gonzalez. A woman holds the… well, the remote control for a human motorcycle. It looks like it simply is a man trapped in the body of a bike (and not very happy about it), but… well… I have no idea, really. There is a surprise ending, anyway, and it is a thoroughly entertaining story.

A lot of stories in the 116 pages of this issue of Heavy Metal, then. With, really, only one thing in common (if we exclude the episode of The 49th Key): they have all been written, drawn, coloured and lettered by Mexican authors, artists, colourists and letterers (to be noticed that the “guest editor” of this issue is the R.G. Llarena who wrote Izal). Several of them set their story in their native countries, others chose not to; but they all delivered big time. Nothing in this issue of Heavy Metal is less than good.

Whether you are an old reader of Heavy Metal or you are new to the magazine, this is a great occasion to pick up a copy. Do it!

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