Monday, April 4, 2011

Review of Sonambulo - Sleep of the Just

Just to let you know, I'll be reviewing any medium involving the weird, strange, obscure, and of course anything with a lucha mask. Today, I bring you Sonámbulo: The Sleep of the Just, collect case trade paperback! To start, you must his the author/artist Rafael Navarro's website here:

This book is 120 manly pages of awesome, black and white pages thick with pulp noir. It's a fair price of $15 at Navarro's site, considering the story packs such an foreseen wallop of a tale!
El Sonambulo wants you to tell him your dreams!

Let's begin with the hero of these adventures, El Sonambulo. This guy is an ex luchador turned detective, cracking cases of Whittier, California. Not only that, but this guy has the uncanny ability to see your dreams, but with the horrible contrast of never sleeping. As Sonambulo says, "It's like living two lives." This first story, Sleep of the Just, introduces the reader to his situation, skills, and an interesting case. It's just like a traditional pulp novel from the pen of Chandler or Hammet, with a unique twist. A damsel kidnapped for extortion money, a bizarre trail that leads to an unusual ending. You won't be disappointed.

I first heard about this character a few years ago, but only a month ago did I finally decide to order all the Sonambulo comics. I feel like the late comer to the party, the guy who just finally saw something like Schindler's List or Lord of The Rings and wants to talk about it, even though everybody is done with the hype. But let me tell you, Sonambulo is well worth still talking about. Not many have heard of it, and that's a crying shame, because he's a classic!
Rafael Navarro, left-handed guitar at his side, selling stories at the con!

I unfortunately don't know Rafael Navarro in person, but from the pictures, youtube videos, and his books, I imagine him to be have the charisma and personality somewhere between Bugs Bunny and The Dude, the physical appearance of Zorro or Iñigo Montoya, and the artistry of Steve Ditko, John Buscema, and Jack Kirby with a modern flair. He is also probably the kindest artist I've never had the pleasure of meeting. Why do I say this? Simply because of the following:


These were illustrations Navarro did for me! When I ordered the books, on the two envelopes he drew the first two characters. Then on the inside of Sleep of the Just he made that awesome personalized sketch!
This guy is after my own heart! I cut out the first two sketches from the envelope, and placed them on frames. They currently reside on my "LUCHA WALL" (something I need to photograph and share with you all). Thanks again Raf! (If I may call you that)

Now lastly, to the ratings:

Page Count: 120
Year: 1996, reprinted in 2001 as a trade

Favorite Quote: A quick back story to my favorite quote: Just about everyone I know swears in spanish, my grandparents did, my girlfriend's father does, my girlfriend's sister does, even when I'm out and about and hear Spanish, it's littered with a few naughty words. But me, I don't swear in Spanish. I almost feel like I have a different voice when I speak Spanish. It could be also that 90% of the time, when I'm using Spanish it's in a professional setting (ie where I work, at a hospital). So, my favorite quote has to be Sonambulo's exclaimations of:  I¡¿Qué la canción?! I think I might insert this charming and harmless phrase into my lexicon!

The Ratings:
My rating system is out of five stars, and consists of six categories, then an overall score.

  • Story:
    The characters and stories are familiar, while also being unique with their blend of Mexicana and Lucha with Pulp Noir of the early to mid 20th century. The first adventure is open and shut, but the origin story is what makes this so cool. I can also say, the adventures even get better when things become a little more surreal and supernatural.
  • Bizarre Factor:
    Uhh, duh! Detectives + Lucha Libre. Simple as that!
  • Horror:
    This first adventure isn't really all that scary. This category I don't think works for this story.

  • Action:
    You can't have a luchadores and thugs without tons of action.
  • Camp:
    No camp really here. This is a clever tale, and I'm begging for more!
  • Nudity:
    There are some scenes suggesting alcohol and sex, but nothing to get your knickers in a twist over. It's like in the old films where they are fixing their tie and the woman is smoking.
  • Overall:
    This series overall is great, and this first book just kicks off the party. It's well rounded, and great introduction to my new favorite hero. Well worth buying!

That's about it guys! Once again, I suggest running on over to Rafael Navarro's Sonambulo site and buying this book, and maybe one other to wet your whistle. I am sure you'll come back for more!

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