By Justin Jordan, Raul Trevino and Juan Useche

Wow, great start! 

Sombra (Spanish for Shadow) is an all-new four-part series by BOOM! Studios and issue #1 proves that the creative team of Justin Jordan, Raul Trevino and Juan Useche plan to give us a comprehensive and thrilling international cop drama. The introduction of backstory and characters is done so well that you get a taste for what to expect while being brought up to speed on what has previously transpired. First issues are as responsible for the story’s setup as they are for conveying the overall design, so we should take that to mean that Sombra is going to provide a great blend of drama and action without a dull moment.

Justin Jordan (Luther Strode) writes remarkably realistic dialogue with just the right amount of sensationalism you’d expect from this genre. These characters are so developed already and so on point without being overly-stereotypical that this comic book could just as easily be a film or television miniseries. At times it’s impressive to see how comics as a medium can out do the biggest budget special effects, but other times it’s a pleasant surprise to see how comics can match what’s done on film so perfectly. In this case, Sombra just may have the makings for an epic ongoing series, but we’ll have to get to issue #4 to see if it’s worthy of its own universe. No problem there because issue #2 can’t get here soon enough.

Raul Trevino (Tinkers Trilogy) has a nice easy style, more manga than traditional American comic book, but it works very well when balanced with the story’s gritty circumstance. There are horrific scenes and cringe-worthy elements that are delivered more evenly than disturbingly and that is all due to the art style. At times Trevino’s pencils are looser as he simply indicates shape and form, but there’s no loss of information despite a lack of detail. He manages the same level of drama and dynamics as a superhero book, but without characters flying or shooting beams from their eyes. There is an absolute poetry in the way he draws and that’s one of the big grabs with this series, to the point where you could predict high praise for a long time to come.

Of course it’s the colors by Juan Useche that add a level of Zen to that poetic vibe as each scene dictates it’s own tone and mood. It would seem that violence could occur at any moment, as if shocking horror is just outside of the reader’s line of sight, and choosing the right colors for the right moments is a giant task. Useche doesn’t appear to be struggling with the challenge, and its textures and palettes like the ones in Sombra that make it work so well.

If you haven’t noticed yet, this is a five-star review for the first issue of a limited series. It’s a badass book. Comparisons could be made to other series in the genre such as Image’s The Cross Bronx, or even Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ Criminal. There’s nothing here that you wouldn’t see in those examples except Sombra manages to keep a level of true realism within the boundaries of what a comic book should be. It doesn’t pay homage, capitalize on pulpy nostalgia or introduce any supernatural elements. There always seems to be a catch when a comic book sets out to do a dramatic crime story like this one, but Sombra comes across like a straightforward, yet highly entertaining, story. Grab this one. If you like anything about the subject of a female DEA agent in Mexico trying to solve the mystery of a legendary agent who also happens to be her father, then go to the comic shop and pick this book up. You’ll be glad you did.


About The Author Matthew Strackbein

Matt Strackbein was born and raised in Maryland but has called Colorado home for the last 17 years where he lives happily in Longmont with his wife. He began reading comic books at the age of seven after discovering a silver age stash in his grandparents’ attic. Comic books inspired Matt to start drawing, which lead to a successful career as a commercial artist. He has worked in the apparel industry for many years as a production artist and designer. His accomplishments include designing backcountry skiwear for world-class athletes as well as downhill ski race suit designs for the 2014 Winter Olympics for the United States and Canadian national ski teams. Matt currently works as a freelance textile-print designer, but still dedicates time to his first love – comics. With over 200 letters to the editor published, Matt is a known letterhack. He self-publishes autobiographical comics about his struggles to break into the industry, which finally paid off when Dark Horse asked him to produce 2-page back up stories in recent issues of B.P.R.D. Besides his own comics, Matt collaborates on independent books as a colorist and letterer. He also teaches the art of making comics to students of all ages.