Writers: Todd Livingston, Robert Tinnell
Artist: Neil Vokes
The Wicked West is an entertaining read, combining the western and horror genres into something nonconforming and fun. While there is no shortage of horror in popular culture lately, there is definitely a lack of quality in the genre. So itís refreshing to read a story like this one, that actually provides engaging storytelling and characterization.
The story and the art work together create a dark, damp, creepy atmosphere, and it adds to the enjoyment of the book. The tale surrounds a mysterious man in the Old West (in the 1870ís to be exact) named Cotton Coleridge, who comes to a little town to pursue an advertised schoolteacher position. A boy named Roy is a student in the townís school at which Coleridge is now teaching, and he seems to be the only person in town who isnít afraid of the stranger. He senses that there is something unnatural and frightening happening in his town, thoughósomething that no one else seems to pick up on (besides Coleridge, of course, who knew about this paranormal activity before his arrival). Before long the town is streaming with vampires and bloodless corpses, and itís up to Coleridge to come up with a solution.
There are a few things that rubbed me the wrong way about this book, one of which is the fact that the only Hispanic person in town constantly refers to Coleridge as ďJefe,Ē which translates to ďboss.Ē While this may be historically accurate on some level, I donít feel that itís an accuracy that we necessarily need to perpetuate. It felt somewhat demeaning and condescending, even though I understand what the creators were shooting foróColeridge was the only person in town who listened to the old man or treated him with any respect (and it turns out, the old man is the only person who knows why these vampires are popping up).
One other thing that felt out of place was a young girl, probably in her late teens, who is in the class that Coleridge begins to teach. As soon as he makes his appearance in the classroom, the girl began throwing herself at him, and later in the story she goes so far as to show up at his door to make it easy for him. Of course Coleridge turns her down, but these scenes felt oddly out of place; they were much more adult than the rest of the tale, and they felt somewhat thrown in to the mix. It staggered the pacing and the general feel of the comic. It seems the intention of the creators was to show what kind of man Coleridge was (the narration in the book implies that Coleridge only did the right thing here because he was smart, not noble), but it didnít work for me.Other than those things, though, this was an enjoyable storyline. It is an unusual tale that infuses the classic ideals of two different genres, and it rarely takes itself too seriously.
But while this is definitely an enjoyable title that I would be willing to pick up again, it does not provide anything truly sensational. Itís an entertaining read, especially if youíre looking for something spooky without being truly horrific, or are in the mood for a semi-western tale. But it wasnít earth shattering.
The art is appropriately creepy, complete with rainstorms and most things in the storyline occurring at night. The pencils create a world behind the script, really making this little western town and its people come alive. The colors are also fantastic, and they would have to be in order to truly contribute to the eerie look of the entire comic.
Iíll definitely be willing to pick up more of The Wicked West tales, but I canít say that itís a must-read. Check it out if it sounds appealing to you and you have the money or inclination to try something new.
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