Cover Image: Contrapaso

Contrapaso

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Member Reviews

Absolutely superb. This is an engrossing read, the plot ducks and dives and keeps the reader on their toes. At times it is taut and emotional and others it is comical and a bromance. All of this while being a thriller and taking place during Franco's dictatorship. The dialogue between Sanz and Leon is brilliant and their exasperation with each other is magnificently drawn. The detail in the graphic rendering of the city, streets, people's facial expressions is fantastic - you feel like you're amongst the hustle and bustle of the city. Every character has been carefully considered and I was hooked right up to the end. Highly recommended.
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Rating: 4.25 🌟
First and foremost, I'd like to express my gratitude to Netgalley for providing me with an e-ARC of this copy.
Disclaimer: This review is solely based on my own opinion
TW: violent material, nudity, death, blood
I went into this book with no expectations, and I was pleasantly surprised by how well-written the storyline was for a graphic novel. Everything was spot on, and I was completely immersed in the plot the entire time I was reading it. Kudos to the author.
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The story starts in Madrid, 1956 at the newspaper offices of “La Capital.”  It is under the fascistic Franco regime censorship.  In the beginning of this graphic novel it starts out as a murder mystery with an experienced crime reporter and a young reporter with a difficult past.  The young reporter is supposedly under the training of the experienced reporter.  It is a time where everyone is afraid, have shame and hypocrisy.  As they investigate, the experienced reporter the story about the murder will never be published.  The reporters dig into a world of hypocrisy and scandal which is a place where one must struggle to deal with the censorship rather than the normal appearance to the world.  The reporters must deal with unwed mothers, mental patients and “sexual deviants.  The reporters must go through secret divisions of ex-reds and nationalists.  It is a difficult country to live in.  

The plot is complex.  I almost lost interest as it was not always easy to follow.  It is a surprising history lesson that is in some ways still being repeated today.  Yet, it is a story about the good in people, people who I came to care about.  The illustrations reflect the story perfectly.
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TW: Ableism, Homophobia, Eugenics,

I was super interested in this book from just the description, and honestly it didn't disappoint story wise. While it does address some very sensitive topics, I struggle to to think of a time where they weren't treated with grace. Valero does a fantastic job of both depicting the time period and these issues.

Velero's Art is gorgeous more then once I was left in awe. 
This is by far the first comic I can think of where it felt like every panel came from a female gaze and it was honestly refreshing. To have scenes that I know would have full frontal nudity in something else, not too. It was amazing.

The one thing I disliked about this book, was the incestual romantic relationship between Lenoir and his cousin.
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Francoist Spain is always one of those interesting historical time-periods you see under-represented in the modern historical texts. Whether it be the official Spanish stance, or simply how the rest of the world sees the period, it almost like 40 years of harsh fascism simply vanished in 1975 when the country shifted to democracy. perhaps it’s because of Franco’s stance of being “neutral” during the war, or secretly a Axis Ally like most “neutral states were, but I remember first going down the rabbit hole on the topic after watching Pan’s labyrinth many moons ago. What a complicated time, one that it seems nobody has honestly come to terms with as of yet, even in 2021.

This is the setting for today’s review – Contrapaso – 1. The Children of Others by Teresa Valero. When all information is controlled by the state, a series of suspicious murders puts journalists in a particularly bad place – do the objectively tell the news, or should they tow the line and do what the party says, usually hiding what really happened? When a conspiracy is uncovered that puts members of the higher echelons of Franco’s regime as complicit, what should they do? This is the story of a hard-boiled, very cynical, crime beat journalist (and sometimes detective) named Emilio Sanz, and his “assistant” Léon Lenoir, a younger man basically hired as his replacement. Hopefully what they find doesn’t take them in too deep!

“Madrid, winter of 1956. Franco’s fascist dictatorship controls the press and maintains the fiction of an idyllic nation. Faced with the Regime’s attempts to cover up the country’s most sordid crimes, two journalists from the crime beat, the jaded veteran Emilio Sanz and the young and intrepid Léon Lenoir, seek to reveal the truth. Confronted by a wave of unexplained murders, the duo sets out to uncover the dark secret connecting them, buried in a cruel past. Brilliantly written and illustrated by Teresa Valero, Sanz and Lenoir’s investigation plunges us headfirst into an era and society as dark and as violent as it is full of hope. A bracing journalistic thriller revealing the lengths the Francoist regime was willing to go to in its attempts to stifle any form of dissent.”

Apart from the interesting setting, this comic is a VERY well done crime thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time I was reading it. It has a wonderful art style, and reminded me more of something akin to a noir -infused Hercule Poirot or Columbo story to any sort of modern procedural detective drama. Being that I grew up watching things like that when I was younger, means that I had a great appreciation for it. With the added threat of potential murder or political assassination if they dig just a tad too deep, or even dare report one of the murders as anything short of natural causes, the stakes are very high in this story. If and when I see that volume two of this is released, I definitely plan to get it and find out what happens.

For somebody not really that much into these sorts of stories, I really liked it. With the background of the setting, the overall plot, and complexity of the criminal conspiracy going, this stands out from your typical crime comics in just about every way possible. Europe Comics almost always picks great titles to bring over, and this is no exception.
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I liked the artwork as it reminded me of the older comics I used to read. I wasn't really sure about the story itself. Maybe it's not my kind of thing.
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Thanks to Netgalley for a digital copy in exchange for an honest review :)

Madrid, winter of 1956. Franco’s fascist dictatorship controls the press and maintains the fiction of an idyllic nation. Faced with the Regime’s attempts to cover up the country’s most sordid crimes, two journalists from the crime beat, the jaded veteran Emilio Sanz and the young and intrepid Léon Lenoir, seek to reveal the truth. 

The historical aspect of this comic was incredible and very informative. I rarely read historical fiction that makes me want to find out more about the historical aspects, but this was one of them. I think it does a great job at this. With this in mind, I also think that the atmosphere was perfect for the type of story and the time period. This was even more emphasized by the art style - absolutely beautiful. The colours, the building, the general art style - all worked together to create something very interesting and captivating. 

For around 140 pages, this comic made me really care about the main characters. Even after finishing reading it, I found myself wondering what could happen next to Emilio and Leon. I cannot say I have a favourite, I like both of them equally. They are a great pair and their personalities and backgrounds are very interesting. 

I don't want to say much about the plot because I new barely anything and it surprised me in a pleasant way. The crimes and the mystery around them are well presented. Even though I had a feeling about who the criminal was, I enjoyed the ending. 

I highly recommend this graphic novel! Great!!
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I requested Contrapaso without many high expectations, simply because Spanish history with these years, in particular, is not something I often see written about and I wanted to give it a chance even if it ended up being bad.

Contrapaso ended up being one of the best graphic novels I have ever read. It was also one of the hardest, theme-wise.

General Impressions

This is both an extremely straightforward plot and one of the most complex and detailed graphic stories I've ever read. If you are a fan of tropes, this follows plenty of fan favourites such as disillusioned old cop/excited rookie, second chance romance and serial killer hunt. Even if this is a story set in a XX century fascist Spain and characters political inclinations are very important, every character in this book is incredibly complex and well rounded, making them feel like people rather than stereotypes. You see villains thinking of themselves as and trying to be kind, good people and heroes on the other side of history and blinded by their privilege.

Corruption inside the church, patriarchy, fascism, political intolerance, sexism, homophobia, censorship, sexual abuse and so many other themes are present throughout the story not only in the plot and character's dialogue but also in the illustration backgrounds and between the lines making this a read that always gives you more after each time.

I NEED a sequel and to find out everything this book's author has worked on before now.

Thank you to Europe Comics and NetGalley for this DRC.

Rating: 5/5
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Such a necessary graphic novel! It was so interesting to read a graphic novel covering this specific historical time period, with such an interesting but horrifying plot line. I loved how it covered the various crimes committed against women of the time and the artwork was beautifully. I will be following Teresa Valero very closely!
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*Thanks to Europe Comics for giving me the ARC through NetGalley in exchange of a honest review*

Contrapaso is a thriller graphic novel set in Spain in the 50's about a two journalists; a young idealist and an old cynic, that work together to uncover the mysterious death of a woman, who leads them to the shady affairs of a prominent psychiatrist who runs a clinic specialized in the treatment of 'unhappy' rich women, with the utmost secrecy lest people discover they might be mentally unstable.

While the foundation of this story might seem overdone, what really makes this story stand out is the setting far away from the usual gritty New York City. Rather than a mere dressing, the author and illustrator manages to give so much life to this tale by portraying Madrid's city life of the time, the political situation under Franco's regime and the harrowing circumstances many women lived in that period. Making this graphic novel a entertaining read. 

It's clear there's a lot of research done for this work and i appreciate that in any historical fiction.

Truly a highlight comic read this year!, it ends in a cliffhanger so I can't wait to see what's going to happen next.
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4.5 stars*

TW: nudity, murder, blood, gruesome content.

Premise:

Based in 1956, France, it is a historical mystery/thriller comic.
Emileo, a renowned reporter, works for a newspaper that no longer prints the truth, yet he keep on looking for it while just making changes in his old articles for earning the bread. He believes if he can't say the truth, then he better not tell a lie either. He has his own demons, and his reasons to keep on digging the truth is not as a personal vendetta, but rather just for the sake to find the monster.
Leon, is a new employee in Emileo's newspaper and would work with him in crime beat, leon has returned from Paris to Spain after staying away for 5 years. He has his own story but that will be told later.
A woman has died by drowning and but she has been subjected to electric shocks and cuts on her body, and hence starts the search for truth.


It flows at a good pace and the illustrations are impressively done, and, the characters were well-developed and pretty interesting. The plot was well thought, it talked about everyone without ever feeling off. The mystery was good too, and the stories/reasons within the main story sounded probable.
When I went in I didn't expect to like it this much but it keeped me hooked and didn't disappoint me once.
The best part was how it almost covered an entire circle between the beginning and the end.

I'd definitely recommend this to whoever prefers such comics and would love the read the next in the series.

Thanks to Netgalley and publishers for the ARC
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Before I start: 

WARNING: This comic contains graphic images of death and gore, nudity, and sexual and physical abuse. It also contains graphic, verbal descriptions of violence, and implies acts of incest (which weren't considered such during the time this comic takes place).

This story is set in 1956, Spain, during a time where the press was controlled by the government and the truth was hidden from the people. Two journalists, a veteran and a junior conduct an unauthorised investigation of a series of murders that seem to be connected. This investigation leads the two journalists to a much more sinister truth that has been hidden for years.

Aside from the long list of warnings above, this comic was really good and certainly worth reading. It's full of intrigue and mystery, and bone-chilling crimes. Who doesn't love that? That's not all, however. It also details the lack of freedom of speech, the acts against those who dare oppose their government, and the brutal mistreatment of women (homosexual women in particular), all happening at that time, which, I believe, is more than worth reading. This comic is perfect for fans of the crime and mystery genre. You may or may not need a strong stomach for it. It depends on your preferences.
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Honestly this was short and perfect for me. I loved the genres mixed into this graphic novel. Historical fiction mixed In with much more and a mystery it was perfect. It was so much fun following this cast of characters while they unveiled secrets and continued to do so as we progressed in this graphic novel it was so much fun i loved it!
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This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review

"Have you gone crazy?! If I publish this, they'll shut down the paper. You know that!"

"Yes I know that"

"Then why the hell did you write it? 

"Because it's the truth."

Raw, Intense, Truthful. Those are the words I use to describe this story. With little knowledge and attracted because of the amazing cover, I went into this graphic novel hoping to discover something new. 

You know what I did more than discover, I was entrapped and I just wanted to get to the end and trust me the end has put me on edge to find out what is coming the fans of Contrapaso's way. Hopefully. 

The story follows a veteran journalist, Emilo Sanz and a novice journalist Lèon Lenoir who work together to uncover a murder case when a woman is found drowned with a poem carved into her abdomen. 

Both men have their own deep secrets they are trying to bury and hoping to find some form of healing from. 

This story will keep you gasping, screaming and almost crying because of the truth and realities of women in Madrid 1956. 

I especially loved how the story dropped hints and clues, being a thriller and mystery comic, it gave everything it was meant to offer- entertainment, suspense, action, raw emotions and deep thoughts. 
.
#EuropeComics #NetGalley

Thank you Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to dive into a history of Madrid Spain through Contrapaso.
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I guess it's fair to say this crime book does something slightly new and different, but a lot of that is down to it being set where it is, in Francoist Spain.  My lacklustre response probably comes from the fact this is a place and time I've never gained an interest in.  Either way, it's a graphic novel concerning legacy – the legacy of human relationships, ill-timed offspring and principally the legacy of ill-minded politics.  Three stars from me then do not mean there is scope for many other readers with an affinity with the milieu to appreciate it more.
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A really interesting story set in 1950s Francoist Spain, shining light on the political climate of the time through a riveting murder mystery. I really enjoyed it.
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Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Contrapaso by Teresa Valero is a fantastic graphic novel that will transport you back into the past.  It will appeal to fans of historical thrillers like Sherlock Holmes or Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.  The story is set in Spain in 1956, when a dictator controls the presses.  Two journalists, Emilio and Leon, investigate a series of murders in order to try to spread awareness of the truth.  Who is murdering these people?  Will the pair get in trouble for reporting what they find out?  And how far will a dictatorship go to suppress dissidents?

Overall, Contrapaso is an interesting look into criminal investigations in Spain in the past.  One highlight of this book is the stunning artwork.  I felt like I was reading a comic book that had been drawn during the golden age of comics.  However, the colors were definitely updated and picked to evoke an earlier, nostalgic time.  I took off 1 star, because I was a bit put off by 4-5 disturbing images of murders.  Although I was prepared for a bit of that, the images of the corpses were too much for me.  I'm sure though that there are plenty of readers who don't mind that sort of thing though, and it was a relatively minor part of the book. If you're intrigued by the synopsis, or if you're a fan of graphic novels in general, I recommend that you check out this book, which is available now!
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