July 29, 2014

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Mesmo Delivery (2nd Edition)


Mesmo Delivery (2nd Edition)
Written and illustrated by Rafael Grampá
Dark Horse

Mesmo Delivery is a visually stunning, hyper-violent story about the world's worst visit to a rest stop. Originally published in 2010, Dark Horse has released a Hardcover 2nd edition of Mesmo Delivery. This book was Grampá's full-length comics debut, and is worth a look for a quick, viscerally entertaining romp, and as an artistic showcase.

The story concerns two men. Rufo is a big guy and is a driver for Mesmo Delivery company. His traveling companion is an older man, an Elvis fan (and sometimes impersonator) named Sangrecco. They're on their way to make a delivery in the middle of nowhere when they decide to make a stop at a grimy gas station next to a bar. Never a good decision.

There are some rowdy locals in the bar that start giving Rufo a hard time, and one of them says they'll give Rufo $50 if he can knock the guy out. They head out, and in the first of some pretty absurd moments, Rufo's challenger takes his standard prosthetic hand off and puts on a giant fist, for fighting purposes. Much to Rufo's surprise, this challenger avoids his punches and then proceeds to beat the hell out of him. Things go badly when Rufo accidentially kills one of their female companions, and then they knock out Rufo. Believing he's dead, they decide to dispose of him, and decide to investigate the mysterious cargo at the back of the truck. Big mistake.

The story briefly cuts back to when Rufo is hired by the unseen owner of Mesmo Delivery, who lets him know that an associate, Sangrecco, will be traveling with him and pay Rufo what he's owed once the delivery is made to the drop-off.  The story then returns to the present, where the man who went to see what's inside the truck's head starts rolling. It's Sangrecco, who as it turns out has incredible assassin martial arts fighting skills. He quickly, brutally murders the rest of the people who were at the truck stop, puts their bodies in the back of the truck, and returns. Rufo eventually becomes conscious again, and returns to the truck where he finds Sangrecco resting, having missed all of Sangrecco's theatrics. Through another series of flashbacks, we see Sangrecco talking with the unseen owner, and it's clear that things are not going to end well for Rufo.

Any discussion of this book begins with Grampá's art. Grampá is a hyper-talented, kinetic, incredibly detailed stylist. Each of them has their own unique style, but you could include Grampá's work in a general category with Paul Pope, James Stokoe and Geof Darrow. Each panel, each square inch of the page conveys hyper-kinetic detail and motion (there are panels in this book where you feel like the intricate swirls of detail are actually moving). Grampá's fight sequences in this book are not for the faint of heart - there is blood, gore, and a fair number of decapitations. These scenes are rendered with a great degree of skill by Grampá, he effectively shows the speed at which Sangrecco operates, and from the moment you see Sangrecco's true nature, you understand that there's no hope for any of these people.

The book has a fairly limited color palate - it's all very muted, dusted and grimy, fitting the setting of the story perfectly. There's also interesting color choice regarding Sangrecco. He wears a black shirt, and the blacks around him are strikingly rendered, even places (like the inside of the bar) that weren't previously rendered in black.  It is like when he's around, he sucks the life out of the room.

The story itself is basic, but not simple. When you see the two men initially (Rufo and Sangrecco), you expect that Rufo is the serious threat in the group. He's a huge imposing man, and Sangrecco is an older, much smaller man who talks about the time when he was an Elvis impersonator. However, as the story illustrates, things are not as they seem.  As a writer, Grampá knows how to set a mood and tone, and the story elements make for a great crime/western/martial arts story mashup. The book is also full moments of dark humor (much of it visual) and wit.

If you're looking for a heartwarming, uplifting tale about the beauty of the human spirit, seriously, look elsewhere. However, if you're looking for an intense, bloody romp from a visual master, Mesmo Delivery is just the thing.

 By the way, if you have any issues with the story after reading the book, please keep in mind you'll need to speak to the following person to register your complaint:

I wouldn't mess with this guy