Torpedo, or Torpedo 1936, is a Spanish comics series written by Enrique Sánchez Abulí and drawn by Jordi Bernet, which depicts the adventures of the antagonistic character Luca Torelli, a heartless hitman, and his sidekick Rascal, in context of the violent organized crime culture of New York City during the Great Depression era.
The series was originally developed by Abulí and veteran artist Alex Toth, who drew the first two stories in 1981. The collaboration ended when Toth decided he did not share Abulí's darkly humorous view of mankind and frequent use of profanity, and withdrew from the project. He was then replaced by Jordi Bernet, whose gritty, if stylized, artistic style was well suited for the dark and violent subject matter.
Torpedo 1936 was first published in issue 32 of the Spanish horror comics magazine Creepy in February, 1982. The first two issues featured Toth's artwork, and starting issue 34, with the story De perro a perro, Bernet was responsible for the drawings. Torpedo went on to be featured in several Spanish comics magazines, such as Thriller, Comix International, Totem el comix, Co & Co and Viñetas, and albums were published, translated into several languages. The public response to the series became substantial, and it was awarded with the 1986 Angoulême Best Foreign Album Award. Eventually, a dedicated magazine named Luca Torelli es Torpedo started publication in May, 1991.
Luca Torelli is born in Sicily circa 1903, to a poor, broken home marked by spousal abuse. His parents are presumed to be Vittorio Torelli and Luciana Petrosino, although his older brother's real father was actually their grandfather (who raped his own daughter) and it is implied that Luca's own biological father was the local mafioso kingpin, who raped Luciana in exchange for mediating peacefully in the feud between the Torellis and the Petrosinos. Luca loses his older brother to a severe beating by their drunken father, orchestrates a vengeance against the latter by using a vindictive neighbour as an unwitting agent, and finally witnesses their mother dying of sorrow upon her son's and husband's consecutive deaths, thereupon being fostered by his uncle Vincenzo. Despite the fact that he engineered his father's death at the hands of their neighbour, the ancestral institution of vendetta prevails and Luca kills him with his uncle's aid; this is implied to be his first direct murder. He is then forced to flee for America as a teenager where he works as a shoe shiner, thereby meeting an abusive senior police officer named MacDonald whom he finally shoots, being involved in other law infringements, such as bank robberies, which also happen to end in murders, and soon becoming a hit man ("torpedo" is 1920s slang for a contract killer). Some time later, he gets a Polish American sidekick called Rascal.
From here onwards it is difficult to maintain a linear narrative since no dates are given (aside from incidental details such as the Volstead Act, the outburst of the Spanish civil war and, later in the series, the Cuban revolution). Apart from Rascal and characters in flashback stories, there are few recurring characters and few dates are given for his present day stories. The only significant recurring character is a woman called Susan who consistently outwits Torelli. She appears in the first story by Bernet (De perro a perro), a second one still early on (La dama de los camelos), and one of the latest (El día de la mala baba). At least thirteen years are said to have passed between her second and third appearance; she is assumed to be a high-profile prostitute in the first two (whose services had been solicited by Torelli himself in the past), and a "reformed", recently widowed housewife and mother, who had presumably "fucked her [old and rich] husband to death", as Torelli puts it, in the third.
All published by Glénat.
Torpedo was published in Brazil both as separate stories in Animal magazine and also as collected books from Martins Fontes publishing.