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Southland Tales: Two Roads Diverge
Richard Kelly & Brett Weldele
Graphitti Designs, 96 pages

Southland Tales: Two Roads Diverge
Southland Tales
JUNE 30 2008:
One of the world's most famous actors has disappeared. Boxer Santaros awakens deep in the Nevada desert...alone, stricken with amnesia. He is rescued by a drifter named Fortunio Balducci, only to discover that the world around him has suddenly changed. America now stands on the brink of social, economic and environmental disaster...approaching the three-year anniversary of dual nuclear attacks on Texas soil. As Boxer struggles to regain his memory, his paths cross with a mysterious adult film star named Krysta Now at the Nevada/California state line. Krysta revels her psychic abilities to Boxer in the form of a prophetic screenplay that foreshadows the apocalypse.

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Nathan Brazil

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'"How the hell can they get a wi-fi connection out here?"

"Baby zeppelins."

"What?"

"These little drone zeppelins… they can broadcast a wi-fi area as big as Texas."

"Wow. The future is here."

Southland Tales: Two Roads Diverge is a graphic novel, the first of three titles that form a prequel to the movie Southland Tales, starring Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, Sean William Scott, and Sarah Michelle Gellar. Printed in trade paperback size, the book looks and feels quite classy, although it cannot get away from the fact that it is, to all intents and purposes, also a piece of promo. The story centres around Boxer Santaros, a world famous actor who is found alone in the Nevada desert, without any ID and unable to remember who he is or how he got there. By chance, Santaros is rescued by professional gambler Fortunio Balducci, who recognises the star and sees an opportunity. Balducci knows Krysta Now, a porn starlet with ambitions way above her apparent station, and the contacts to get the trio visas for crossing the border into California. Why does interstate travel require a visa? Because this is 2008, in a timeline where three years earlier terrorists set off two nuclear bombs in Texas, bringing the War On Terror to American soil and precipitating World War III.

Southland Tales: Two Roads Diverge is very much an idea whose time is now. It's 85 pages are loaded with intrigue and by the book mystery. It didn't strike me as a particularly original piece of imagineering, but it does drip potential. Fortunio Balducci is just the kind of low life with an eye for the main chance, that thrives in a shattered society, Boxer Santaros, dumb as man can come to start with, looks like an idea waiting to happen, and Krysta Now is revealed to be far more intelligent than her image would suggest. We're shown hints that powerful players are aware of Santaros's entry into this reality, and the ensemble effect is that nothing is destined to remain quite the way it seems. In the flesh, it may prove difficult for the Rock to convince an audience that he is an amnesiac traveller in time, or the former Buffy to make us believe she is a porn starlet. But on the comic book page, they worked well enough for me to keep a look out for the next two titles, Book II: Fingerprints and Book III: The Mechanicals. The biggest let down here is Brett Weldele's rather basic, scratchy artwork. Those who prefer style over realism in their comic book artists may find it more to their taste, but for me the lack of sharp definition lessened the impact of the text. Overall, though, this is a work that has just enough going for it to push it above the mainstream.

Copyright © 2006 Nathan Brazil

Nathan Brazil
If Nathan Brazil were dyslexic, he'd be the dog of the Well world. In reality, he's an English bloke who lives on an island, reading, writing and throwing chips to the seagulls. Drop by his web site at www.inkdigital.org.


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