Review: Contrapaso 1. - The Children Of Others
Out now from Europe Comics, Book one of Contrapaso - The Children Of Others.
Madrid, winter of 1956. Franco’s fascist dictatorship controls the press and maintains the fiction of an idyllic nation. Faced with the Regime’s attempts to cover up the country’s most sordid crimes, two journalists from the crime beat, the jaded veteran Emilio Sanz and the young and intrepid Léon Lenoir, seek to reveal the truth. Confronted by a wave of unexplained murders, the duo sets out to uncover the dark secret connecting them, buried in a cruel past. Brilliantly written and illustrated by Teresa Valero, Sanz and Lenoir’s investigation plunges us headfirst into an era and society as dark and as violent as it is full of hope. A bracing journalistic thriller revealing the lengths the Francoist regime was willing to go to in its attempts to stifle any form of dissent.
Script by Teresa Valero - Art by Teresa Valero
Set during the regime of Franco, this is not a time that I knew much about. When I was younger, my history mainly dealt with the two World Wars - not what came next. Contrapaso put's you firmly in that era and launches you on a crusade to not only find a killer but also something else.
We get the introductions into all the characters in a really good way. There are family and work disputes. The jaded journalist was well done, with his opinions of the way things are and also against what he won't ever be allowed to print. He is already on a quest - to find a serial killer who has been not only evading the law but also letting others take the fall for what he did. Then we get the newbie. Fresh from France, and he has some family issues which delve deeply into the story and link up really well.
The surrounding cast is well done, with police, army, parents, doctors, nurses and Nuns. All of which have some link to the case of this murder that kicks off the story.
In the background is not only the government but those who are pushing back against it. There are petty squabbles, but also the grander campaigns and protests against the dictatorship.
The grand size of this comic allows us to explore all of these aspects, with the investigation continuing and the two journalists trying to get on. It's chilly at first, but then they gradually get that middle ground. Even in the hard time that this is set, there is still some good humour that works well with the story.
The story itself starts off slow, but as the parts start to fit together, the pace picks up well. There are conspiracies and more within this story, and as you get deeper down the rabbit hole, you realise that this is a story that can't see print. That, along with the oppressive government forces make this story all the tenser.
The art is fantastic, with some brilliant reaction shots. Showing the darker sides to Mardrid and incorporating some excellent big scenes of protests. The darker aspects are well done, with some brilliant colours being used. Each character has their own reactions and the characters look stunning (in all ways)
This is an absolute page-turner, and left me stunned at the end. Equal parts smiles and frowns were on show here as I read it, and I feel honoured to have seen it.