Matador #5

Reviewer: Tim Stevens
Story Title: Suspicion

Written by: Devin Grayson
Art by: Brian Stelfreeze
Colored by: Michelle Madsen
Lettered by: Pat Brosseau
Editor: Alex Sinclair
Publisher: Wildstorm

Comics, like any storytelling medium, should generally follow a three act structure. You have your introduction, where the characters are laid out for you and the problem is presented, your second act that features the bulk of the story and action, and finally, the resolution where all is wrapped up and put to rest following the climax. When you are talking six issue arcs or mini-series (as in this case), that climax should kick off sometime in issue #5 and wrap up in issue #6. To start too early makes the last issues seem superfluous and draggy. To start too late…well, it gives you a book at lot like Matador #5. This comic, like no other I have had to review in recent memory, is a fine example of “nothing happening.”

The sudden violence of Izzy and the Matador against the cops that kicked off last issue concludes here and is followed by…not much. Izzy calls in a favor from that philandering DA she slept with, speaks to IA, visits her father, and returns to the Matador to find him not doing anything about a pot that has been boiling all night.

It all looks excellent with Stelfreeze continuing to impress with angular, beautiful art and Michelle Madsen pinch-hitting for Lee Loughridge on colors without missing a beat. Unfortunately, the eye pleasing-ness (yay for made up words!) of it all does not make the comic a good read on its own. After four issues of very well plotted forward progression, this baby just sticks out like a sore thumb.

And what is the deal with the Matador? Izzy’s offhand insult, “What are you, deaf?” appears to quite possibly be prophetic at the issue’s conclusion, but it seems late in the game to toss in a heretofore unknown characteristic, especially considering the depth they give it. If the Matador is deaf then so what? What purpose does it serve for us to learn it now? And if he’s not, then what’s the whole boiling kettle thing about? Is it to make him seem creepy? This is akin to David Lynch revealing in the last half hour of Blue Velvet that Frank Booth is way obsessed with salsa music. Sure, it’s weird, but when the guy is already a nitrous huffing murderer/sadist… so what? Same case with the Matador. Yeah, the staring at a blaring tea kettle is way off… Guess what? He’s a hired killer/bodyguard for the mob and he hums and essentially dances while performing spectacular acts of murder. I think we’ve gotten the point.

This issue simply leaves too many unanswered questions heading into the final issue which will inevitably be forced to compete with a violent, explosive climax. It’s a plotting misstep in an otherwise strong miniseries that, had it occurred in issue three or four would no doubt prove not so bad. In the penultimate issue, however, this could very well prove fatal to this series ending on the high note that its beginnings suggested it would.