Zorro: The Lady Wears Red
by Don McGregor, Mike Mayhew (Image, 1998)

Title notwithstanding, you're never really sure just what color the lady is wearing.

Zorro: The Lady Wears Red is my first time with the graphic version of the famous masked, sword-wielding bandit of old California. Like many, my knowledge of Zorro is limited mostly to the recent movies (one great, one fair) starring Antonia Banderas, although I do have vague memories of watching black-and-white reruns of an old TV series in my childhood.

This collection, published in 1998 by Image Comics, reprints a trilogy of comics first printed earlier that decade by Topps. It is satisfyingly brimming with clever whip and rapier work, verbal ripostes and swashbucklery of the Old West variety.

There are three major storylines here. The first shows Zorro's skillful rescue of a kidnapped (and possibly wanton) young woman despite plenty of bandits and an untimely volcanic eruption. In the second, a bold and earnest young man pays the price for bad timing and a mistaken identity. And thirdly, a woman who believes herself wronged both by Zorro and the men he opposes takes her own mask, scandalously revealing costume and name, Lady Rawhide, to contend with both sides. (The latter character proved popular enough that Zorro #3 was later reprinted as the Lady Rawhide Special, and she later starred in books of her own.)

The action is thrilling and the dialogue is even better. This is a crisp, fun story that deserves to come back into print, and soon. The only problem in this case is that, despite the fine artwork by Mike Mayhew, the book would only improve with color.

I'm not opposed to black-and-white comics as a rule; the technique can be quite effective and artistic. But the action, costumes and scenery here all fall a little flat without color. Otherwise, this is a highly recommended package.

review by
Tom Knapp

6 December 2008

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