Originally posted on Irish Comic News (5/Aug/2016)
Written and lettered by James Mulholland.
Art by Rowel Roque.
Colours by Ryan Burt.
Logo designed by Micah Myers.
The first issue of a five-part western mini-series. As this is the opening issue of the mini-series, the story is establishing the characters and the premise of the mini-series.
Ben is a former bounty hunter who has retired to the quiet life with his family. He shows that he can clearly handle himself early on in the story when a gang of men appear in the saloon he happens to be drinking in. It also becomes clear that he misses his bounty hunting days.
Beyond that, the story reveals the cause for Ben to be forced back into the bounty hunting world. I don’t want to say much beyond that lest I spoil the story. As someone who has wanted plenty of westerns growing up, the story really appeals to me. It’s a slow-build to the story that left me asking, ‘what happens next??’. Always a good thing in a first issue.
The creative team have really done well with this issue. It shows a good understanding of the medium with each bringing a high level of ability to the comic.
I was really impressed with the art and colours. Roque has a visual style that really suits this type of comic and does remind me of some western comic books that I read as a kid. He is a very capable artist. I only have one or two small complaints about the storytelling aspect of the art. In one part of the barfight, there are three panels where I wasn’t entirely sure which panel was next. This was more to with the chereography of the fight rather than the artwork. There was also another page where a panel was followed by another which somewhat diminished the impact of the previous panel. I appreciate staging is no easy thing and given the number of panels containing fighting, two panels is a very small number to have the smallest of complaints about.
The colours by Burt equally impressed me. The choice of colours for the night scenes really worked for me as it’s the type of colours that really work for me personally. The colours for the day scene were also a good choice, a selection of colours that really get across the sense of warmth/heat of the Arkansas sun. The choice of strong reds for some of the fight panels had mixed results on my reading of them. For example, if a person is punched and blood flies from their mouth, then having a strong red background directly behind the blood obscures information that was to be conveyed to the reader. Much like the art, this is more nit-picking on behalf given the high standard throughout the comic.
Mulholland is the writer and letterer for the comic. He has crafted a good story and has just the right amount of dialogue/captions to move the story along. There are a couple of simple spelling mistakes that I would put down to the writer handler the lettering also. Having a second pair of eyes run over the text would have probably caught them at the lettering stage. There is also a choice of yellow lettering on a red background that made it difficult for me to read it initially. But these are small things overall. Much like the rest of the creative team, Mullholland has represented himself well.
The first issue of mini-series is all about getting the reader invested so they will keep with the rest of the issues. I’m very much want to see where the story takes Ben.