When I originally reviewed the first two issues, I thought that Ramon was a Spaniard given the long history of bullfighting in the Iberian Peninsula, but by the end of the trade paperback, I realized he is actually a Mexican bullfighter. This becomes significant as he wanders from place to place, teaming up with locals to defeat the resident big bad, since he eventually makes his way to the Southwestern US and partners with a Hassidic or Orthodox rabbi whose Jewish faith gives him strength against the creatures just like Ramon’s Catholicism and an American mixed-race couple who just want to make the world a little safer for their children.
Unfortunately, after years of The Walking Dead on AMC, Ramon’s journey through a wasteland with his young daughter, Adelita, may suffer from a comparison to Rick and Carl/Judith, but Ramon plays a more dynamic role in his apocalypse. He doesn’t just want to save the people he cares about; he has made it his mission to save everyone he can from the invaders, because he has been given a sacred duty as a fighter. He never wavers in his devotion to the battle, and Ramon even tells someone that he has to fight. It’s what he’s meant to do in this new society. I suspect that for such a religious man, Ramon sees his battle against the monsters as a vocation, not just a duty.
My only minor quibble with the Monster Matador compilation occurred in issue five, when Ramon crosses into the US as an undocumented immigrant (I’m not sure if that matters in the case of monster attack.), only to stumble upon racist hillbillies who are straight from The Hills Have Eyes. The scenario felt clichéd, and I was slightly offended that our first encounter with Americans was with gun toting, insular, bigoted cannibals. (I wasn’t kidding when I said they were straight out of The Hills Have Eyes.) Fortunately, Prince introduces some more sympathetic Americans before the end of the chapter, so I wasn’t left wondering if the only Americans left in this world were horrible individuals.
The artwork hasn’t changed significantly over the years, which allows the earlier and later installments to flow together seamlessly. Each of the monsters is quite distinct, and I enjoy how Prince refuses to use the same template over and over. I look forward to seeing the reveal of the Chupacabra in later issues, since it’s only been a mysterious shadowy figure in the panels so far.
Overall, Monster Matador doesn’t introduce anything earth-shatteringly different or unique, but it’s a heartwarming story about a good man striving to keep his morals and find a purpose when the world has fallen apart around him. Ramon may not have super powers, but he’s a super man for putting his life on the line for all of us, the ordinary people who can’t face monsters on our own.
4 Sand Worms Threatening Remote Outposts out of 5
Creative Team: Steven Prince (Writer, artist, and creator)
Publisher: 2510 Press
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