Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Dead West

I came across the Dead West graphic novel quite by accident, not really knowing what to expect. The back cover blurb is as follows-

"I'm going to kill him."
"You can try, but in this town nothing stays dead for long."
"Well that case I'll just have to hurt him real bad."

As the title suggests, it's a Western complete with a Clint Eastwood "man with no name" character- with poncho- a bounty killer on the trail of a "fat man". Unluckily for him, his quarry leads him into a town overrun by zombies, the undead brought to life by an Indian's lust for vengence on the white men who killed his tribe.

The art work is uneven- some of the characters look so much alike that it's sometimes hard to recognise one from the other- but it's better than a lot of what passes for comic book art these days. It's average, nothing special, save for the odd frame here and there. The zombies do look good though.

The story itself is patchy- there's not a whole lot of character development and many of the characters are little more than blanks. In no time at all the town is overrun by zombies and some of the townsfolk are holed up, waiting patiently for their own end. One nice touch is that the zombies are slow during the day, but faster at night. A fair bit of six gun action then ensues, not all of it illustrated as well as it might have been. At times it felt like I was plodding through the book, not carried along by it.

Having said that, there is something likeable about it. Something I can't quite put my finger on. Perhaps it's the setting and the unusual zombie mythos, but despite its failings, I do like this book. In any event, Dead West is certainly no worse than many of the mainstream offerings coming from Marvel or DC these days.

It could do with being a little longer, stretching the story out over two or even three books to give the characters more time to grow on the reader; as it stands, there's little there to empathise with. None of the characters are that engaging. We all know the Clint Eastwood character from the movies and this one is not really different at all but there's little there to make him remotely likeable. It seems to me that the story needed to be bigger in scope, to give him a chance to prove himself, and to give the reader more time to get involved. A bit more action would have been nice too. If it had been up to me, the bounty killer and his prey would have conducted a few chases/gunfights through the zombie-infested town.

I'd give it a solid 3 out of 5. If you're a fan of zombies though it's certainly one to check out.

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