Mark Dos Santos

A Train Called Love 9 (June 2016)

A Train Called Love #9There’s so much action, so much ultra-violence–Ennis looses his Nazi contractor (who’s working for the black guy villain, because–come on–it’s Ennis) in a shopping mall. It’s blood, guts and severed heads everywhere. And it’s glorious. Dos Santos goes crazy with it. There’s so much action, so much physical comedy. Oh, yeah. The four dumb guys are all running around naked. Because Ennis.

And it turns out Train Called Love is only ten issues. So it’s all over soon, which is tragic. Ennis has created such a fantastic cast of characters, with Dos Santos able to make them downright loveable through their absurdity. I wanted three more issues. Alas, poor me, just one more.

It does make sense, however. The way Ennis paces this issue, I should’ve guessed it wasn’t going to twelve. There’s a bit of character stuff in the background–none with the four doofuses because they’re doofuses–but Marv’s girlfriend (Penny?) gets to build towards something and then there’s the romance between the spy and Penny’s sister.

The comic’s hectic but never too hectic. It’s never jumbled. It’s Dos Santos’s best art in the book, just because there’s so much for him to keep in motion.

I just wish it wasn’t ending so soon.

CREDITS

Never Mind the Bollocks; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Marc Dos Santos; colorist, Salvatore Aiala Studios; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Kevin Ketner, Anthony Marques, Rachel Pinnelas and Matt Idelson; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

A Train Called Love 8 (May 2016)

A Train Called Love #8Train Called Love is approaching the finish, which might be why Ennis takes something of a breather here. Following the transportation analogy, this issue is mostly talking heads. Characters are summing up, thinking through their decisions, having introspective moments. The comic–I almost called it “the film,” following through on my suspicions it’s Ennis’s attempt at writing outside comics returned to comics–the comic is gearing up, but also winding down. It’s a bridging issue in a series where bridging means character work. Ennis loves this character work.

There’s a lot of humor, of course. Ennis also loves the absurdist humor. Maybe even moreso than usual because Train takes place in the “real” world. Dos Santos’s cartoon-influenced style just highlights the desperate reality of it all.

I do wish I better remembered the characters’ names. Maybe in a single sitting, they’ll stick through. But regardless of them having memorable names, there are some great moments for these characters. Marv’s suffering lady friend, for example. Ennis gives her so much quiet sadness, punctuated by so much ugliness in the world around her. Ennis is daring the reader to hope for the characters. It’s always a dare in this kind of comic.

It’s a mellow issue. There’s no flash, just deliberate writing, deliberate art.

CREDITS

All the Burning Bridges That Have Fallen After Me; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Marc Dos Santos; colorist, Salvatore Aiala Studios; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Anthony Marques, Rachel Pinnelas and Matt Idelson; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

A Train Called Love 7 (April 2016)

A Train Called Love #7It’s not a bridging issue. I can’t believe it, but Ennis actually does just an issue in a limited series. Will the wonders of A Train Called Love never cease. I mean, Dos Santos manages to the lame bro leads sympathetic in their plight. He’s working against Ennis, who’s trying to make them hilarious in their desperation; it’s a reluctant sympathy and it works out. It’s a very neat touch in what’s becoming an indescribable book.

Each issue of Train has the things Ennis takes very seriously amid the gross out humor and absurdities. This issue it’s the unrequited love between a couple characters and Where Eagles Dare. There’s an action movie sight reference, then Ennis turns it into this whole rumination on Mary Ure and empowerment. A couple panels of rumination, yes, but serious rumination and careful exposition. He’s got reasons for what his characters are doing.

I just wish I remembered all their names. There are at least twelve characters to track. It’s a lot. Ennis is going crazy, but in this extremely contained, extremely precise manner. I’ve even gotten over how strange it is to see Dos Santos’s amiable, animated style against Ennis’s absurd black comedy. Dos Santos excels at the Where Eagles Dare moment, which sort of makes him an Ennis artist.

I’m eagerly awaiting the next issue.

CREDITS

Known As The Rat; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Marc Dos Santos; colorist, Salvatore Aiala Studios; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Anthony Marques, Rachel Pinnelas and Matt Idelson; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

A Train Called Love 5 (February 2016)

A Train Called Love #5It would be interesting–and I’m a little sorry I’ve never done such a thing–but it would be interesting to look at Ennis’s best series each year, best story arcs if he’s doing an on-going. He writes a lot, he actually writes a lot of different genres, but I really do think A Thing Called Love is going to be Ennis’s 2016 highlight.

It’s his sitcom. It’s a Garth Ennis comic populated by all the great supporting characters from his other books given free reign. Dos Santos’s art gives it this absurd distance. It’s a gritty, but peppily animated New York City, which is why I always wonder if Train started as Ennis trying a TV show or film script. It’s so intricate, so precisely paced; a lot of work went into it.

This issue has quite a few funny scenes, which gives Dos Santos a lot of great expressions to draw. He gets through the outlandish to the final (also absurd) talking heads sequence and shows he can do the serious character development too.

If there is such a thing as serious character development in A Train Called Love.

It’s excellent again.

CREDITS

We Can’t Rewind, We’ve Gone Too Far; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Marc Dos Santos; colorist, Salvatore Aiala Studios; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Rachel Pinnelas; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

A Train Called Love 4 (December 2015)

A Train Called Love 4

It’s so funny. How can it be so funny? Ennis isn’t even trying this issue. He’s gotten through two bombshell reveals in the previous issue and here he sort of takes a break from comic narrative and instead goes for easy laughs.

And it works. Something about Ennis’s style, something about Dos Santos’s artwork–Train Called Love is this leisurely, self-indulgent, cheaply funny (in a smart way) fun (big) little comic. Ennis enjoys the scenes. He drags them out; the characters are funnier the longer they’re on page, which is awesome. Dos Santos is responsible for a lot of the narrative pacing; he’s got a lot going on in, movement, expression, placement. His style’s simple (Saturday morning cartoon almost) but he knows what he’s doing with it.

Even though not all of this issue connects as much as it could–the pillow talk sequence feels forced–the conclusion is awesome. Ennis wraps up the issue’s plot (a little), moves a couple subplots forward, including a big one, and then manages to end on another surprise. If A Train Called Love manages to keep this speed and quality for all of its twelve issues, it might actually end up being one of Ennis’s most impressive limited series.

CREDITS

Everybody Knows That I Love You; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Marc Dos Santos; colorist, Salvatore Aiala Studios; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Rachel Pinnelas; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

A Train Called Love 2 (November 2015)

A Train Called Love #2Did Ennis lose a bet? Because A Train Called Love is an astoundingly weird choice for him. Once again, it reads like if all of a sudden there were really good cartoons with short runs. Dos Santos’s art has that vibe as well, but it’s really because of Ennis’s dialogue. The comic is Ennis showing off at how well he can write talking heads. And that aspect, the obvious revelry in his ability, is why I wonder if Ennis lost a bet and had to write the book. Like someone said he couldn’t do a comedy comic book to rival the “hang-out” film. And he said, “All right, read Train Called Love.”

Because it’s hard stuff he’s doing here. Ennis is getting away with extreme, obvious jokes. He’s going after the humor people don’t want to acknowledge liking, much less thinking about, and he’s excelling. That success comes from the character work. Train’s “cast,” thanks to Dos Santos and Ennis, have a lot of personality. Yes, Ennis paces the dialogue to let each person make an impression; yes, Dos Santos’s composition makes them more sympathetic. It’s the synthesis though. I really want to know if Ennis gives Dos Santos compositional instruction in the script or if it’s Dos Santos.

So good.

And then, in addition to this late twenty-something comedy at a bar, there’s this amazing action subplot with some girl and a secret agent.

It’s all so good.

CREDITS

Black Beauty; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Marc Dos Santos; colorist, Andrew Elder; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Rachel Pinnelas; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Scroll to Top