Django Unchained #1 Review

Movie tie in comic books or video games are known to be cash grabs with a flimsy premise and little thought put into them. I generally overlook them because of this and didn’t really intend on picking up Django Unchained yet somehow found myself flipping through it. I’ve not seen the film so I went in blind but hoped that Quentin Tarantino’s direct involvement would mean it was worth a read.

His introduction certainly settled some of my fears. This comic book is essentially the entire script, fully formed and almost separate from the movie. While the film evolves and changes during shooting (adding scenes or subtracting them depending on what works best), the comic is the full story as Tarantino originally envisioned it. That’s pretty cool and certainly not the usual approach to cross media promotional products, which usually expand on extraneous details instead of forming a cohesive story.

unchained.jpgSince the comic is written by Tarantino, the dialogue is sharp, the violence quick but efficient, and the premise is solid but just ridiculous enough you know who conceived of it. Dr. King Schultz, a mysterious man of foreign origin not yet revealed– all we know is that English is his second language– encounters slavers on the move with their “property”. He’s looking for one slave in particular and lucky for them both, finds him there. Jango becomes Django when Schultz signs for his new purchase, adding a silent D and asserting that it “adds character”. All somewhat unnecessary considering he’s killed one slaver and trapped the other beneath his horse. Negotiations did not go well.
The interaction between Django and Schultz is great and their banter is all very natural, as wordy as Tarantino can sometimes be. Schultz is disgusted by slavery and guarantees Django his freedom as long as he assists him in finding the Brittle Brothers. Considering these were the men that captured Django and his wife (raping her in the process), he’s happy to assist Schultz. This is all information found in the trailer but is really well set-up in the comic. I haven’t seen the film yet but by the time I finished this first issue, I was pretty excited about catching it on opening day.
The art isn’t spectacular in this series but neither does it detract from the story. I’m not a fan of Guera’s work but if you enjoyed Scalped, you’ll like this. It almost looks like an old issue of Jonah Hex, which lends itself to a credible Western comic feel. The story is great so far and I think it will be a strong title separate from the movie. Tarantino’s style really suits the comic medium and I really do hope that he continues to do graphic novel series’ of his films or any concepts that don’t make it to the big screen. An ongoing series would fulfill his need to tell the complete story without having it turn into a four-hour movie. It makes sense and I think it would also make his fans happy.


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