By Joe Kelly and Max Fiumara
Enrico is the son of Italian immigrants in 1930’s New York. His father works hard to provide for his family. Enrico loves him deeply. Then, on a picnic to the beach, there’s an accident, and Enrico is suddenly the man of the family. He determines to “guard the castle” and earn what his family needs to survive. He will pursue what his father did for a living… capturing dragons for the underground dragon fighting rings.
Kelly excels in getting inside Enrico’s head. We see everything that happens through his eyes, and his continual inner monologue shows the strain of a ten-year-old boy suddenly tasked with providing for the family. He also doesn’t shy away from the realities of 1930’s America. Enrico initially attempts to work in the factories, and we get to see some accidents as fellow children loose arms and legs.
The twist, of course, of the dragon fighting ring is a pleasant zing in an otherwise historical setting. Kelly drops some hints in this volume that even this twist is not what it appears. Many people, including Enrico’s mother, don’t believe that dragons exist. Others fight for “dragon’s rights,” much as others would crusade against cockfighting. The world is lush and populated with real characters.
The art works well and capitalizes why this story was not presented in prose. In one image, the reader and Enrico see the first glimpse of the dragon pit while two huge monsters fight. That one image would take a chapter to describe well and carry the same impact in raw prose. Some stories are meant for novels, others for movies. This story is meant for the medium of comics.
Check this out. Enrico’s story is one that I will pursue.