The ax and the lightning bolt: the incredible encounter between Zagor and Flash

The ax and the lightning bolt: the incredible encounter between Zagor and Flash
The impossible encounter? This title opens the insights included in La scure e il fulmine, the number zero of a comic that, honestly, few would have ever imagined a few years ago that Zagor, historical character of Sergio Bonelli Editore, could cross the path by Flash, the Scarlet Sprinter from DC Comics. Yet, The Hatchet and the Lightning Bolt has come to life, following an illustrious precedent, Dangerous Relationships, the number zero of another incredible encounter between characters from the two publishing houses, Dylan Dog and Batman.

Dangerous Relationships and The Ax and the lightning bolt are part of a larger project, made possible by an agreement between Sergio Bonelli Editore and DC Comics, a communion of intent that allows apparently irreconcilable heroes to come into contact. When this project was announced, the community of comic readers, especially the diehard Bonellians, was crossed by a preventive mistrust, motivated mainly by preconceptions. How to bring such different heroes together? A question to which the authors of the Milanese publishing house have dedicated themselves, who must find a common trait among these modern pantheons to create adventures that are respectful of the different publishing realities and at the same time are an intriguing reading and that push readers to get closer to others heroes, taking them out of their comfort zone.

The ax and the lightning bolt: an incredible encounter

Working on two characters like Zagor and Flash, making them protagonists of a common story was not a challenge simple . We are dealing with two heroes who have an important past behind them, who, albeit in a different way, have clearly influenced the imagination of readers.

If we talk about Flash, let's talk about the history of comics. It is thanks to the second incarnation of the Scarlet Sprinter made in 1956 by Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino, who debuted in Showcase # 4, that superhero comics came out of the dark era characterized by the end of the Golden Age, giving new life to this genre and opening a new age of glory, the Silver Age.

On the Italian front, we had to wait until 1961, when for the first time the cry of the Spirit with the Hatchet echoed in the Darkwood forests. Like him, Zagor also had a revolutionary role in the conception of our local comics. The fervent imagination of Sergio Bonelli, under the pseudonym of Guido Nolitta, and the trait of Gallieno Ferri became the foundations of a new way of understanding adventurous comics, opening up to a narrative that was not monolithic, but that welcomed different suggestions, such as fantasy , science fiction and horror.

Zagor and Flash have therefore both characterized a revolution in their respective fields, and this would already be sufficient reason to see a similarity in them. To this we could add how Zagor, in the Bonelli scene made up of not very super and very human figures, is perhaps the character who comes closest to the concept of traditional superhero. But there is another trait that unites the two characters: a strong thirst for justice.

Born from a tragic past, the desire to bring justice where it often fails is a trait d’union between Barry Allen and Patrick Wilding, who do their utmost to ensure that abuses are punished. A laudable intent that is also seen in other characters, but which is enriched in them by a strong sensitivity towards the victims, a human side that often becomes their main strength. The common tragic past made them particularly sensitive to the emotions of others, but in a more human and welcoming way than the detachment often exercised by other figures, such as the Dark Knight.

This human side and their spirit pure, like true heroes, is the point of contact on which Giovanni Masi and Mauro Uzzeo worked flawlessly, to create La scure e il fulmine. It would have been too easy to make an origin story in which the two characters had a point of contact, instead the two authors have grasped the essence of the characters and made it the emotional and narrative fulcrum of this story. And they have not created unthinkable tricks, they have inserted an element to which a true hero could never remain deaf: a request for help.

Masi and Uzzeo, demonstrating a deep knowledge of the characters, let the Zagor and Flash remain, for the moment, in their respective worlds, with only one contact that helps the reader to understand how there is an affinity of spirit between the two heroes, the premise of a fascinating future development. Above all, it is admirable the way in which the authentic spirit of the two characters is respected, giving life to a perfect number zero in its mission: to be a prologue that intrigues.

Zagor and Flash, two authentic heroes

It is not easy to be able to create works like The Ax and the Lightning. We must delve into the story of two much loved characters, knowing that the most uncompromising fans will dissect every cartoon, every line under the lens of the protagonists' dogmatic continuity. Uzzeo and Masi have understood this aspect and have treasured it, giving the right connotation to this first foray into the meeting between the two heroes.

The identity of the two heroes is preserved with respect and competence, setting the visual narrative is also a consequence. Davide Gianfelice, author of the drawings, is able to better grasp the characteristics of Zagor and Flash, which have two completely different dynamics.

The tables starring Zagor are mainly developed vertically, in order to enhance its kinetics within Darkwood, maintaining a link with the graphic tradition originated with Ferri, but moving towards a modern and dynamic composition of the tables, including a spectacular splash page in which all the historical nemeses of the Spirit with the Hatchet appear.

Likewise, Gianfelice plays Flash beautifully. Barry's speed is impressed with a mainly horizontal graphic development, in which Gianfelice's stroke becomes richer and more dynamic to reflect the character's Speed. The very composition of the plates changes, adapting to a more rapid narrative flow, which incorporates glimpses and vignettes unrelated to a rigid cage imposition to adapt to the familiar rapidity of Flash.

It is interesting to note how Gianfelice also interprets the muscularity of Flash, intelligently capturing different poses of Flash compared to the Bonelli counterpart. When we spoke of respect for the tradition of these two characters, we were also referring to this, to grasp the essence of the spirit of the two heroes also in the visual narration, a task that Gianfelice performed very well by capturing the right muscular moments, the typical poses and vivid of the two heroes., further enhanced by the colors of Luca Saponti.

A role also played by Carmine di Giandomenico, author of the splendid double cover of La scure e il fulmine. And here, an almost romantic speech opens, for a lover of comics. Di Giandomenico creates a table that pays homage to the cover of the historic Flash # 123 (October 1961), in which his namesake Carmine Infantino portrayed Barry in the company of Jay Garrick, the Flash of the Golden Age, giving life, in a certain sense, to continuity DC with the heroes of the golden age of superheroes.

The ax and the lightning bolt, therefore, presents itself as a compelling starting point for a story that connects two titanic figures of the comic. The intent of the authors who gave life to this historic meeting is declared with transparency and passion in the editorials that accompany The Ax and the Lightning, which also show the working sketches of the book. Greater care in outlining the figure of the Scarlet Sprinter does not go unnoticed, an intelligent move considered as this product seems to appeal more to the readers of the Spirit with the Hatchet.

Operations such as The Hatchet and the Lightning Bolt are good for the sector. Net of the sterile controversies or the easy accusations of commercial maneuvers, credit must be given to the publishing houses for having found an intriguing and compelling way to present new characters to readers accustomed to very different readings. It may or may not be polite, you can judge the story according to personal parameters of liking, but given that it is difficult to make definitive judgments on a number zero, La scure e il fulmine must be recognized the courage to give life to an incredible encounter but one that has everyone the conditions of being a great adventure!

You can buy The ax and the lightning bolt on Amazone, choosing the cover starring Flash or Zagor

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