Zorro: Trail of the Fox
by Matt Wagner, Francesco Francavilla (Dynamite, 2009)

I have vague memories of watching reruns of an old, black-and-white Zorro series when I was a kid. Otherwise, most of my knowledge of the masked California hero is from the recent pair of movies starring Antonio Banderas in the swashbuckling role.

So I picked up Zorro: Trail of the Fox with little more than a fondness for The Lone Ranger, another classic hero resurrected by the folks at Dynamite Entertainment, and Matt Wagner, particularly his early, unfinished Mage series of comics. So far as I was concerned, this collection -- which retells Zorro's origins based on the novel by Isabel Allende -- had a wide open field to play on.

All in all, it was a fair job.

Let me state up front, Trail of the Fox did not sweep me off my feet, nor did Wagner and artist Francesco Francavilla impress me the way Brett Matthews and Sergio Cariello did with the first volume of The Lone Ranger. Wagner packs his Zorro with heaps of backstory, both during Diego de la Vega's childhood in California and his formative years in Spain, as well as his torturous return home and early forays with the cloak and mask. And, while there's plenty of drama and pathos along the way, it sometimes seems like the flashbacks will never end. Also, Francavilla's work lacks the polish I've come to expect from Dynamite's growing library. A more accomplished artist might have made the flow of action more exciting.

That said, the book did ignite enough interest to bring me back for volume two. I trust Wagner to pep things up, now that Zorro's history is out of the way.

review by
Tom Knapp

14 August 2010

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