Scarface: Say Hello to my Little Review

November 4th, 2007 by | Tags: , ,

I honestly hadn’t heard of this comic until I was futzing around with the graphic novel display at work. Glancing at it, I figured it was probably just some crap comic about Tony Montana prior to the movie’s story. Then I saw that John Layman wrote it. I haven’t read much of the man’s work, but House of M: Fantastic Four was the best side-story to the House of M event and Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness is the highlight of the entire Marvel Zombie experiment. That got me interested enough to read the back cover, where I discovered it was a sequel. Hey, why the hell not.

I should get this out of the way first: I’m not the biggest fan of the movie Scarface. It’s been years since I’ve last seen it, but the problem for me that it was too long a movie to be carried by only one likeable character. Tony Montana is an awesome character, but he’s the only thing the movie had going for it. None of the other characters did anything for me. I still respect the movie and wouldn’t mind giving it another go one of these days.

But wait… Isn’t Tony Montana dead? Didn’t the movie end with the crazy gunfight where a coke-filled Tony got riddled with 500 bullets before being shot in the back by that Terminator-looking guy? Now, around the same time, a Scarface videogame called the World is Yours was released and dealt with this by going the What If route. Before he can get killed, Tony finds a passage to escape through, recuperates and plans his comeback. Scarface: Scarred for Life, on the other hand, is a comic book. Like Wilson Fisk and Barracuda, charismatic comic book mobsters have a talent for surviving the most insane maimings.

Two corrupt feds (one a power-hungry sadist and the other a lazy junky that always sneaks away with the mind-altering evidence) investigate the aftermath of the movie’s climactic bloodbath and find the remains of Tony with a pulse. An eight-month coma later, Tony wakes up to find himself in a hospital, now in the control of these feds who want him to help cooperate and work with them against Alejandro Sosa. Sosa is the Columbian drug lord that ordered Tony whacked in the first place.

He may have his life, but things have never looked worse for Tony. He’s lost it all. His wife left him. His angry mother went back to Cuba. His best friend and sister are both dead. His drug empire is gone. Now he just sits in a disgusting little house in a wheelchair, suffering the indignity of a colostomy bag and surrounded by cockroaches. Pissed off, he rolls to the streets to rebuild his empire from the ground up.

As I mentioned with the movie, Tony Montana alone isn’t enough to carry three hours of film. Five issues, on the other hand, is no problem. Especially when you consider the additional fun characters Layman creates for this story. In addition to the asshole feds, there’s the disgustingly obese drug dealer El Gordo, the likeminded Diaz Brothers and Communist gunrunner General Vitaly Smenchenko, who kind of looks like Walter from Big Lebowski.

Tony begins to rise back up to power and becomes none too pleased when he finds out that his nemesis Sosa has married his ex-wife Elvira. And also, a whole lot of people die.

There is a lot of violence and it is great. I feel Layman’s defining trait as a writer is he knows exactly what his licensed stories call for. He always relies on the correct amount of humor, violence and characterization, all the while being inventive in his game. There are about seven or eight major death scenes in this story and they’re mostly outrageous, but done just right. It’s not like that piece of shit movie Shoot’em Up, where they tried way too hard and everything came off as painful and stupid.

The art is by Dave Crosland, whose cartoony and simplistic – though often times filled with detail – style makes a strange choice for the project. It took me an issue, but it did grow on me. The creative team made the choice not to make Montana look exactly like Al Pacino. They wanted their protagonist to be a character that Pacino played, as opposed to Pacino playing a character. But that only means visually, so Tony Montana does indeed say “fuck” in every other panel. You cock-a-roach.

It is funny and over-the-top violent, but there are moments that are almost just a little bit touching when you get past the realization that every single character involved is a walking piece of human waste. In fact, they never do try to redeem Tony in any way. At least in the movie he died because he took a moral stand and did the right thing for once in his life. Here, we only follow him because he’s the protagonist. There’s no reason to think that Sosa is a worse human being.

The story moves pretty seamlessly and at times it’s hard to tell where one issue ends and another begins. A lot of ground is covered in the five issues. By the time you reach the last few pages, you feel as if you lost track of time and it all flew by. I won’t spoil the ending, but the idea of another sequel doesn’t seem too out of the question.

If you come across the trade like I did, pick it up. Give it a look. You may like it.

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One comment to “Scarface: Say Hello to my Little Review”

  1. scarface is the best and the world is mine!