Torpedo Vol. 3

Written by Enrique Sánchez Abulí
Art by Jordi Bernet
144 pages, black and white
Published by IDW

Jordi Bernet is one of those artists whose work I admire every time I see, but whom I rarely encounter. With IDW publishing a series of reprints of Torpedo, a European comic about an Italian killer-for-hire, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to give it a whirl and see a lot more of Bernet’s art in one fell swoop. What I wasn’t expecting, though, was just how brutal Enrique Sánchez Abulí’s scripts would be.

Torpedo Vol. 3 opens a story titled "Once Upon a Time in Italy" that flashes back to Luca "Torpedo" Torelli’s childhood, giving us a glimpse into his family life that involved a drunken father, a lecherous relationship with a school teacher, and violent abuse. It’s easily the best story in the volume, in part because it sets up everything that’s to come in Torpedo’s life. In reading this first story, I wasn’t expecting such a dark, wicked streak of humor from Abulí, one that continues throughout the Torpedo stories in general. It’s misogynistic, violent, and anything but family friendly, but it does so with a sly wink to the reader. So when Torpedo’s teacher gets hot for him every time a family member dies, it turns a dark moment into something with increasing humor. And when Rascal and Torpedo abuse and eventually kill a target in a crowded movie theatre, there’s something funny about their well-timed elbows to the face, comments about the female lead, and eventual drawing of guns.

That said, let there be no doubt whatsoever: Torpedo is an extremely violent comic. People who don’t want to read stories where death is an inevitability, or the protagonists sexually abuse the poor women who get in their way, should absolutely steer clear. Torpedo and company are horrible people, and it’s a fact that you need to agree with before you start reading these comics, or you’re just going to put yourself in a world of hurt. If you don’t mind the good guys always finishing last and being degraded (or worse), though, you’ll get a great deal of entertainment from Torpedo.

As for the art? It’s outstanding. Bernet’s characters are beautifully expressive, from wry sidelong glances right before attacking someone, to unadulterated surprise when opening up a safe reveals a midget with a pistol waiting on the other side of the door. Bernet pays attention to the fashions of the times; everyone’s dressed handsomely for the 1930s, and there’s variety in people’s suits and dresses. Cars, bridges, skylines, you name it, Bernet draws it. Best of all, the characters in Torpedo vary in attractiveness. This may sound like a strange thing, but it’s rare that an artist mixes handsome, beautiful, average, and homely characters all together; it feels that much more realistic, and it lets the truly beautiful people pop out in the crowd.

I quite enjoyed Torpedo Vol. 3, enough that I’m going to have to check out the earlier volumes before long. (As an added bonus, the legendary Alex Toth draws some of the stories in the first volume.) If you don’t mind your comics getting a little down and dirty (or if you’ve been enjoying Darwyn Cooke’s adaptation of the Parker graphic novels), you’ll like Torpedo.

Purchase Links: Amazon.com | Powell’s Books

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