"El Gigante" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Luchagore Productions
Illustrated by Daiju Kurabayashi
Produced by Hiro Fuji
Based on the novel Muerte Con Carne by Shane McKenzie
2017, 79 Pages
We've all heard tales of people waking up in bathtubs full of ice with their kidneys removed, or unfortunate souls caught up in human trafficking rings. El Gigante presents an entirely new terror. Armando passes out while crossing the border from Mexico into the US. When he wakes up, he's got a lucha libre mask made of skin and hair sewn onto his face. He's forced to battle a bloodthirsty giant in a wrestling ring if he hopes to make it out alive, all the while a small group of creepy onlookers cheer maniacally.
El Gigante is an unsettling read and the creative team lets most of the artwork speak for itself. There is very little dialogue or narration. Instead, we're presented with these visceral images of terror as Armando goes through Hell. There's an old Looney Tunes episode called Bunny Hugged where Bugs Bunny wrestles a beast of a man named The Crusher. Bugs is tossed around like a rag doll for the first few segments. El Gigante is like that, but a gruesome, horror version.
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Daiju Kurabayashi's artwork conveys so much terror in both the massive size of El Gigante as well as the look of fear in Armando's eyes. The desperation really comes through. He is literally fighting for his life. You'll wince as each blow lands and blood spews out. By the end, the pages are practically dripping wet.
You get absolutely nothing in terms of origin for the title character or the weird family of onlookers cheering on the violence. You don't really need it either. Armando's plight is established in the first few pages, which makes what he goes through all the more disturbing. This is a wrestling ring of carnage and pain, and I didn't just say that as the Macho Man Randy Savage.
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The colors help reinforce this acute sense of hyper violence. They're bright and vibrant, like you're under the influence of hallucinogenics. This makes the actual images even crazier because you're wondering if they're real. The whole thing looks like an old exploitation flick.
El Gigante is The Texas Chain Saw Massacre in the squared circle. It's a fever dream leaping off the top turnbuckle to deliver gore-filled brawls in a luchador mask. This is cringe-worthy violence that comes as a force of nature. There's no reason behind it. It just exists and you have to hope that it never turns its eyes on you.