This month we’ve turned over the tumbleweed to find you the rarest of pleasures, epic sci-fi in a Wild West setting. Yes, WestWorld isn’t the only one doing it well! This month, we bring you the hilariously awesome “ballet of death” that is “The Gunfighter”, an inspired Shakespearean thriller comic that grabs you by the throat, and a novel our editor described as “an omnibus of the wildest, cussingest, most interesting romp through a demonic West since Jonah Hex rode into town.” Our editors had a real challenge coming up with the goods this month, but man did they deliver! Each of these selections will blow your socks off with their creativity, inventiveness, and cowgirl swagger! Enjoy!
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Dead West by Tim Marquitz, J.M. Martin, & Kenny Soward brands itself “Weird Western, Supernatural, Lovecraftian horror, with atypical strong female characters!” At some point in there, you might have interjected, “You had me at…” This is splatterhouse by way of Dodge City, and it puts its lead character, Nina Weaver, through the wringer and back, but she’s never one to let a zombie out shoot her or a murderous cloud of crows outflank her. Dead West collects the two books in this series, Those Poor, Poor Bastards and The Ten Thousand Things into an omnibus of the wildest, cussingest, most interesting romp through a demonic West since Jonah Hex rode into town.
Engraved On the Eye by Saladin Ahmed – Even though he’s currently penning Marvel’s Black Bolt, writer Saladin Ahmed’s indie bonafides are beyond reproach, and this collection of his short stories is proof that where he goes, you need to follow. Consider how he qualified for this month’s selection (Elevator story pitch: A gun slinging Muslim wizard in the old West). The story, “Mr. Hadj’s Sunset Ride”, is the western tale as you have never seen it done before. And that’s just one gem in a flawless collection. Check it out here.
There Is No Lovely End by Patty Templeton – We know we’ve featured this one before. Why are we featuring it again? BECAUSE IT’S THAT GOOD. A villainous, thieving, mother cursed with sight and sound of the dead? Yes. The son she needs to kill to rid herself of that burden? Yes. Do you love her character anyway? YES! This book is an injection of so much humor, wit, pathos, and more than a touch of weird frontier honor that it can’t be trumpeted enough. You pick this one up and you immediately smell the dust, see the wagon wheels, and feel the dead rolling the world like tumbleweeds.
The first genre mash up I can remember seeing growing up was West World. Who doesn’t love a psychotic robot cowboy? As most sci-fi is about exploring, it makes sense that the two genres would work so well together. This month’s trip to the final frontier is a bit closer to home as I turn my gaze from the stars above and over to the Weird West.
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Nick Dragotta
I love creator owned East of West because you don’t know what’s going on with this sometimes over the top, futuristic alt-Earth book. Hickman is known for cosmic level chess moves, with a deep endgame and East of West is that. This comic grabs you by the throat as you try and hold on to this apocalyptic, sci-fi, steampunk, political thriller, high action, western runaway colt. If Shakespeare wrote Star Trek is the best way to describe the diverse, complex and utterly engaging cast of characters whose dance with words is just as dangerous as bullets or swords. You might need to use the wiki page to keep track of characters because this book has it all, a lone Horseman looking for his lost son, a super powered Native American working to keep his people safe, and techno ninjas. I feel like there have been a couple of “train” robberies and what story doesn’t have that character you love to hate, an over the top, slimy, mustache twirling, backstabbing, southern politician.
East of West’s slick design and look is heavily influenced by manga, but then what isn’t, and still manages to give each culture or character a distinctive look blended within a Western vibe. My only warning is you can’t jump in, you have to start at the beginning, and even now I still drop a “WTF is going on!”, but those unexpected twists and turns are what will keep bringing you back.
Written by Ben Acker & Ben Blacker and Andrew Miller
Illustrated by Hannah Christenson
Colored by Juan Useche
Lettered by Colin Bell
This one could have easily been selected for last month’s Paranormal picks. Like most Westerns, Death Be Damned is about revenge. Miranda wants to kill the men who murdered her family; the twist, they killed her too but Miranda is able to come back from the dead. Each time she’s killed, she fights her way back from the dead, the downside she loses her memories of her family and only the need for vengeance remains. With the help of Joseph the town undertaker, she’s able to keep some written memories in exchange for finding his dead wife’s soul whenever she’s on the other side. The writing team of Ben Acker, Ben Blacker, and Andrew Miller creates an interesting tale of a person’s hubris overcoming death and the repercussions of blind vengeance. They don’t shy away from the gruesome life of yesteryear and illustrator Hannah Christenson and colorist Juan Useche’s gritty psychedelic look for the book helps carry the mood when Miranda moves from the land of the dead to that of the living. This mini series can be found at your local comic store or online. If you’re in a mood for death and vengeance, this Western tale from a lost X-File is it.