Though it's inspired by noble intentions, the comic itself is less than stellar.
In “I Still Have a Dream,” professional wrestler Aski protests against a new Texas law proposition that treats illegal immigrants unfairly. The pushers behind the law, Dan Clearwater and Phil Merritt, frame Aski for attempted murder in order to silence him. In order to stop the controversial law, Aski must clear his name and rescue his activist friends before they are murdered.
Immigration reform is a big issue that I won’t attempt to address. I’ll just stick to the comic itself.
Mercado’s script is difficult to read. The stilted narration squeezes itself into almost every panel, and it describes exactly who is in the scene and what they think or feel. When I say stilted, I mean stilted. For example, Aski stands in the middle of the ring ready to face off against his opponent, the villainous Mike Ortega. Luckily for him, “The public chants encourage and lifted the champ.” Direct quote.
A lot of the dialogue is like this, too, and it’s there solely to progress the plot. Activist John Ramirez warns our hero, “Hey Aski, I know it’s not the right time to raise this issue, but be careful, especially during your public statements during the protest in Austin.” If it’s not the right time to raise the issue, why bring it up, John? Oh, because the bad guys are going to execute their sinister plan on the next page. Aski replies, “Let’s forget about that for a moment . . . I just beat Mike Ortega. Now is time for celebration!” The comic is rated for “ages 15 and above,” but it seems intended for a much younger audience.
Valenzuela’s art is also difficult to follow. When I finished reading it, I became grateful that the narration did spell out every character in the scene, because they are tough to distinguish from each other, save for their hair-length and color. Aski is smart. He never takes off his mask, even when he drives his car and wears street clothes. I never lost track of him.
Let me take you back to that same wrestling match with Mike Ortega. Aski pulls an amazing maneuver on Ortega for the win. I have no clue what it is. It has the sound effect “Frup!” “Puff!” “Zum!” and ends down on the mat. Ortega doesn’t even realize what just happened. “What??? How did you manage that?” he exclaims. How, indeed? Ortega leaves the ring defeated, surrounded by other obscure sound effects like “Vush . . . ” “Frush . . . ” and “Wush . . . ”
I can’t get over these sound effects. The only cool thing the sound effects do is put the whole crime case in the context of a wrestling match. The sound of the final bell -- “Tchan!” -- also echoes at the end of the story when the feds arrest the bad guys. Aski beat the corrupt government opponents just like he beat his wrestling opponents! But, “Tchan!” is a strange sound effect. I wanted a good, old-fashioned “Ding!” or “Ba-ding!” I would have also accepted “Bamf!”
The end of the issue has a mini-biography about the real-life Aski, a Leon Guanajuato native who grew up in Dallas. After he rose to prominence in the OCW, he turned his attention to working with Hispanic youth. He encourages teens to work hard to achieve their dreams. The true story is more interesting than the comic itself.
If you love a wrestler who executes the finishing moves on injustice and leaves the reader scratching their head, then you might dig Aski: The Mayan Warrior.