Clandestino #2 (and its previous issue which established the backstory of its lead character and the struggle between the revolutionaries and the military) is the most balls to the wall, action driven comic book of 2016 so far. Writer/artist Amancay Nahuelpan tells a straightforward story of two rebels in love named Clandestino and Leena, who are the run from the military dictatorship’s troops while occasionally playing with time to show key moments in characters’ past. But along the way, he creates havoc with his art, colors, and page layouts as a quiet scene of people sneaking into a government base turns into a tossing, turning double page spread of spectacularly staged gunplay. It’s the story that The Hunger Games, Divergent, and dozens of other Hollywood dystopia action movies aspire to be and keep missing the mark. It reminded me of Mad Max Fury Road and the best films of Robert Rodriguez and Danny Trejo although with its focus on Clandestino’s super cool car and its gravity defying stunts is more in line with Death Proof than Planet Terror.
Clandestino #2 is definitely influenced by the upheavals, revolutions, and military dictatorship that have been a part of Latin America since Spain decided to be greedy, imperialist douchebags and take the land from the indigenous people who had lived there for millenia. This kind of historically grounded (But not slavishly.) worldbuilding offsets the over-the-top action sequences and allows readers to connect the comics to current events. For example, Nahuelpan gives us our first look at the General, who is the main antagonist on the series, and he is portrayed as pretty cartoonish in both actions and the way he is drawn. But he does use real world things, like government drone surveillance and water boarding, to keep his subjects under control and quash the rebels. The General might act like Darth Vader around Admiral Piett in Empire Strikes Back by dressing down his subordinates 24/7 when something doesn’t go his way, but the instruments of his control are ripped from the headlines. Plus having a drone following our protagonists around 24/7 without their knowledge is a great way to make sure the tension never lets up.
The art and colors in Clandestino #2 are striking and bombard the reader with powerful imagery, especially when Clandestino is doing the whole one man army thing against the General’s soldiers or hired mercs. Amancay Nahuelpan goes for a faded feel in his color palette, but he occasionally switches things up, like a pretty light blue for Clandestino and Leena’s car that pulls off stunts that make Cannonball Run look like a laidback day on the golf course. And he is the king of the jaw dropping, money shots in the middle of action scenes that demand to be reread and pored over, like Clandestino and Leena hurtling over a barbwire fence in their trusty ride, somehow having dozens of grenades on him and making a couple bad guys go boom, and a nice bit with a katana towards the end of the issue. He can do subtle too, like a nice use of cross cutting as Leena and Clandestino take out the guards at the military base before reuniting.
Leena is certainly no damsel and even saves Clandestino a few times. Nahuelpan writes the couple as equal partners in their revolutionary enterprise, and they have a nice back and forth about their plans for joining up with other rebel cells after the General’s troops blew up their base and killed all of their compatriots, including their mentor. Their similar backgrounds of watching their parents get and interest in the rebel cause provides a solid base for Leena and Clandestino’s relationship, and they certainly complement each other in ideas and battle.
Clandestino #2 continues to show how Amancay Nahuelpan is a genuine comics auteur as he provides the plot, world, and just enough narration to show what makes Clandestino tick as person to go with the explosive visuals, colors, and letters. If you’re a fan of the action genre or just a human being with a pulse, who isn’t squeamish about ultraviolence, throw your Blu Ray copy of Expendables 3 in the trash can and add this comic to your pull list.