Issue One starts in the desert, in color, but an overtone of sepia gives it a nice touch. The authors use narration blocks along with talking bubbles to tell their story. It’s as if the narrator is a character drawing you into the story . . . maybe the only one you can trust, or possibly the one leading you astray? This comic tests your own notion of reality and time. Which story is real and which is the fake? But, it is never resolved, ending on a cliffhanger as it is intended to be a 20-issue series, which is driving this reviewer a little crazy . . . because I want to know what happens!
I love how the artists use a single, full-page image with smaller, close-up, moment-by-moment shots to help you feel the build up of action. Highlighting the part they want you most to see in the full-page shot and adding anticipation almost in slow motion, like old western stand-downs. You only see the cowboy’s eyes when he has chosen to kill, his head is usually down and covered in the shadow of his hat. The dark shadowing of his face in this moment, narrowing in on his eyes, is stunning; you feel like you could touch him. The artwork is so gritty, dark, and full of pain. He is the “bad boy we feel for, killing to survive.” When the gun goes off, the text is shot out through bright fire, like from Hesiod’s Theogony where the chimera was “a creature fearful, great, swift-footed, and strong . . . breathing forth a fearful blast of blazing fire;” however, the gun/Bang/Blam text graphics don’t seem to match the feel of the rest of the artwork. They have the standard cartoony/graphic quality. The colors of the text fit the shades of fire and blood. Only the font feels off. The final wild west scene ends with a clock tower striking one a.m. Our cowboy poses and broods, “Maybe next time this nightmare will end.” Back to the Future, original gory Brother’s Grimm’s Cinderella, or maybe a tale yet told?
The author is all about detail, from our lead character awakened from his “nightmare” at exactly one a.m. to the ringtone “Wanted Dead or Alive,” to the tattoo on the arm of a perp he later battles. It is in the details of storyline and artwork that I am won over. It is clear this was a passion project, and great time and dedication were put into the development of the characters, their history, and the arc of the story. I also personally enjoyed the mildly gratuitous shot of Hudson dressing to rush to the call of duty; pants unzipped with a nice briefs shot and full view of the hairy six pack. Yum.
There are several parallels in Hudson’s world and the cowboy’s with moments of crossover. In the end, I am left to wonder whose story I am following - the cowboy’s, Hudson’s, or the narrator’s. Are we going to find out this is really some twisted version of The Princess Bride, and we never knew we were Fred Savage? Oddly, I am not bothered by this, because the writers have given me faith that all will be revealed throughout the series. Is it a dream? Multiple personalities? Possession? What? I guess we just have to keep reading to find out.