‘Kingsway West:’ Advance Trade Paperback Review

Things are vicious in the waste, bub.

Greg Pak is certainly well known for his forays in the X world. On the surface, his series of a drifter who's turned his back on his violent past to live in the wilds with the woman he loves will feel pretty familiar to the folks who walked into Logan figuring that they knew what they were going to be seeing.  Before you write this off as an Old Man Logan knockoff, though, remember that I said it only shares the surface value.  The X-Men was a tale spun out of the Civil Rights movement, and while it was captivating to replace minorities with "enhanced" (white) people, the punches that needed to be pulled to publish at the time are no longer barred, and Pak can draw on the real racial tensions that historically existed in his alternate late 1800s California.  The violence is real. There's no one mind-spooking someone into killing their friends. This is a tale of the worst parts of people in power abusing others doing the same, and the lawless bandit with a heart of silver who reluctantly takes them on.

Pak presents us with Kingsway Law, a man who had been caught up in a war between the Chinese, Mexican, and United States of New York governments over a substance known as "Red Gold," a bit of a Philosopher's Stone style MacGuffin that gifts magical powers onto ordinary objects and people.  Law has enough of the killing and the brutality (which, as we continue, we discover he was quite a willing participant in) and heads out to the lands beyond the control of the major powers to live quietly.  There, he meets a woman just as eager to put a violent past behind her, and they promise to live out their days in peace.  Of course, this just doesn't last, and he's dragged back into the world that he spurned.  His search for his wife takes him to places I couldn't have expected, and I think the unique nature is a testament to Pak's skillful storytelling.  I think that this book is engaging in ways that Old Man Logan never could  be, because so much of that other work relied on the whole of the X-verse, where this work, standing completely on its own, adds a mystery and depth that makes for a wholly different flavor of adventure.

I really dig the artwork in this series. I've not encountered Mirko Colak's work much before, but I certainly enjoy it.  The fantastical nature of the world allows him to have a lot of fun with character designs and settings.  Though the locales may not quite look like something of this world, the equipment and vehicles are directly inspired by the historical record and make folks who dig that sort of thing (i.e., me) exceptionally happy.  Without spoiling anything, there's a ship design that's quite familiar to those who studied the Civil War or just really can't get enough of Sahara. (That reference is entirely aimed at my wife, whom I love regardless of her love of that damn movie.)

I'm just scratching the surface with this review on what I think is a series that is told from the heart and has a boatload of potential.  The action thus far has been impressive, and the broader themes and gently laid undertones make for a multifaceted story that can entertain and possibly educate a wide range of readers.

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