by Gavin Johnston on November 14, 2018

Writer: Alan Hebden
Artist: Carlos Ezquerra
Publisher: Rebellion

El Mestizo is the tale of a mysterious gunslinger, battling both the Confederate and Union armies during the American Civil War, an escaped slave who fled to Mexico and has returned years later on a quest for revenge. It’s a tough, fast moving Western, originally published in the pages of war story anthology Battle in 1977.


It's written by Alan Hebden, but El Mestizo will be most associated with artist Carlos Ezquerra, who worked extensively in British comics of the time, and would go on to be a defining feature of 2000AD as the original artist on some of its biggest strips. Carlos passed away last month, aged 70


This is a bold, cinematic adventure from its opening panels where El Mestizo gradually emerges from torrential rain, to the quick, sharp panels of a gunfight which evokes the jump-cuts of a Spaghetti Western. It also shows its artistic creators flair for character design. When El Mestizo snaps back his cape to reveal a trio of guns, he’s as imposing and memorable a figure as any of Carlos’s more famous creations.


El Mestizo takes these iconic images, Western movie tropes, and history most of us think we’re familiar with and messes with expectations. It’s set in the Confederate southern states, but it’s a gang of Union soldier who brutally slaughter a group of slaves. We’re introduced to a femme fatale as a potential nemesis, only for her to be promptly stabbed in the back and murdered. The first Native American we meet is a low down criminal. There are no good guys here, and El Mestizo will play them all against each other.


Although this reprint has been scheduled for a while, it's the first of Mr Ezquerra’s work to be reissued after his passing. It’s sad then that El Mestizo wasn't afforded the rejuvinating reprint it deserves, especially given teh excellent job that has been done by Rebellion on reprinting other classic tales. Some of the art is faded. The lettering is original, of the clunky type written sort used in British comics of the time. In places, it’s difficult to read.  Regardless, its a great piece of work.


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