Overview

Graveslinger #1

Review

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Graveslinger #1

Credits

  • Words: Shannon Eric Denton and Jeff Mariotte
  • Art: John Cboins
  • Inks: John Cboins
  • Colors: Chris Wood
  • Story Title: The Devil's Playground
  • Price: $3.50
  • Release Date: Oct 10, 2007

It’s night of the living dead in the Old West, but there’s one gunslinger charged with putting back into the ground those that should’ve stayed there.

A stranger—a bounty hunter—rides a wagon filled with bodies through the countryside, on the track of yet another band of wanted men.  But they aren’t just any men: they’re walking dead men, literally.  That’s right, undead outlaws take up residence in a local homestead, turning the womenfolk into hostages, and it comes down to a standoff between them, the husband, and the bounty hunter himself, a man strangely marked by some sort of higher (or perhaps lower) power.

Graveslinger is the first original comic project by Desperados creator Jeff Mariotte in quite some time, and while it combines the same two genre elements of that past series—horror and the Wild West—it manages to find its own flavor rather effortlessly.  Part of this is likely due to Mariotte having teamed with co-writer Shannon Eric Denton (co-writer of Common Foe, 10, and co-creator of the upcoming Image series The Revenant).  Denton has, in the past, displayed a marvelous sense of pacing, of being able to condense into comic book form any more epic-seeming story, twisting it into something tight, sparse, and yet wholly satisfying.  Mingled with Mariotte’s flair for straight-forward pulp storytelling the duo crank out a first issue that reads as classic as it does modern: not quite a television pilot and not entirely a run-of-the-mill funny book yarn, either.  There’s a lot of Niles in the final package, that sense of pure pop culture meets archetypal standards, and while there’s obviously more to come, the first issue stands on its own as a perfectly gaugeable read, more than enough to determine whether it’ll be any reader’s particular cup of tea.

John Cboins is the man at the helm for the art, a 3D modeler and artist for numerous MMORPG’s, though tapped to be illustrator on Graveslinger.  His work is a gleeful mesh of Kent Williams and Michael Gaydos, and bolstered by an intricate palette from colorist Chris Wood, the book looks as beautiful as can be.  The undead are grotesque; the hero dirty, red-nosed, and aged; the landscape barren yet perfectly picturesque—this is indeed the Wild West as it should be.  Well, should there be zombies and guys hunting them down.  But come on, there probably were.

Graveslinger is a very cool comic, and better yet, it’s smoothly written, superbly rendered,  and, because it’s Image, appears a higher quality product than any DC or Marvel book on the shelf.  Zombies and gunslingers, “how can you top that?” most would likely say, as if these two elements were enough to promote a book.  But seriously, in this day and age, with zombie-this and western-that; with six-gun samurais and zombies in space; with high-noon showdowns between bionic beings and undead comic book universes…can the mere existence of horror and western genres really be enough to suggest a work as worthwhile anymore?  We’re a little inundated with the stuff these days, and with so much to chose from, we can—perhaps for the first time in fanboy history—indeed be choosey (“I don’t want that zombie-western book, I want that one!”  Did you ever think the day would come?).  Well, that day is here, and what can be said about Graveslinger is this: it is the zombie-western book you want, and not whatever else is competing for your time.

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