El Sombra is a novel about a Mexican superhero who takes on a horde of steam-powered flying Nazis. It’s a deliberately outlandish premise but, if you can get behind it, the book is a whole heap of fun and I really enjoyed it.
There is no escape from The Ultimate Reich!
The terrifying Luftwaffe, on their steam-driven wings, have torn apart the sleepy town of Pasito in the heart of Mexico, only to rebuild it as a terrifying clockwork-town where the people become human robots, furthering the nightmare dreams of the Fuhrer.
General Eisenberg and his sociopathic son Alexis control this paradise of horrors. But they are unprepared for the return of a man the desert claimed nine long years ago, a man who has returned from the doors of death and the depths of madness to bring his terrible fury upon their world. With the slash of a sword and a laugh that lights up the night, the man in the bloodstained mask cuts his way through the hopeless, endless routines of the clockwork men to bring new hope to the people.
He defies death! He defies man! No trap can hold the masked daredevil, the saint of ghosts men know as El Sombra!
El Sombra is pitched as a steampunk novel, but it really isn’t. What Al Ewing has delivered with this book is an unashamedly pulp story — and a really good one at that. This is a book with no literary pretensions, focusing instead on a solid and action-filled narrative and peopled with sympathetic characters against a preposterous background.
The author, Al Ewing is primarily a comics writer and, in many ways, El Sombra harks back to the likes of Warlord, Action and Battle. This is a book that you really can judge by its cover, in which a lone swordsman faces off against a clanking Nazi monstrosity, both promises and delivers a thrilling adventure in which the good guy beats the bad guys — at least once per chapter.
There isn’t much depth to El Sombra, and nor does it aspire to any, but it is a very well-written and self-aware novel. Ewing has clearly set out to deliver a blood-spattered page-turned and, in this, he has succeeded magnificently.