"Champions of the Wild Weird West" Graphic Novel Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Arcana Studio
Written by Michael David Nelson and Erik Hendrix
Illustrated by George Kambadais
2012, 112 Pages
Graphic Novel released on November 21st, 2012
A samurai, a former priest, a Native American raised by the white man, a mercenary, and a cowboy. An unlikely cast of characters, but they're the focus of Champions of the Wild Weird West from Arcana. The graphic novel slams these guys together in a quest for revenge. The train carrying the cowboy Jack's fiancée was hijacked by bandits. When they blew the safe to get what was inside, they unleashed a virus that brought the dead back to life. Of course, this happened over an Indian burial ground so there are quite a few dead folks. Now Jack gets a team together to avenge his would-be-wife's death and put a stop to this undead menace.
If this sounds like a fun comic, you'd be right. Champions of the Wild Weird West is like something out of a Saturday morning adventure cartoon. This isn't a kid's comic, but it feels like the type of crazy antics that a show like that would get into. It's a weird premise to begin with, but authors Michael David Nelson and Erik Hendrix make it work. The way the team is put together is like an origin story for a western version of the Justice League. They all join forces to stop a common enemy that's more than any one of them can handle on their own.
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The breakout character in the book is easily Taro, the samurai. His lady-love was kidnapped and he's been searching for her ever since. He doesn't carry a gun. Instead he relies on his sword to slice through his enemies and deflect their bullets. He reminded me a lot of Samurai Jack, which is definitely not a bad thing as I loved that show. Of course, Taro doesn't fight aliens or robots, but I could see him doing that if necessary.
George Kambadais' artwork matched up to the tone of the story perfectly. Part of the reason that Taro reminds me of Samurai Jack is because of the way he's designed. He's like a cross between Jack and Clint Eastwood from The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. It's an awesome look that I wish popped up more in the western genre.
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The design for the zombies is a pretty basic one, but it works for Champions. They're really just green people. They might have all eaten food that didn't sit well with their stomachs. Instead of taking a dose of Pepto Bismol, they're eating human flesh.
Revenge is a pretty basic emotion. It's something that anyone that's ever been wronged can understand. Fighting zombies is quickly becoming another basic emotion, so putting the two together is a no-brainer (no pun intended). This is probably why Champions of the Wild Weird West works so well. It's a fun comic that touches on a variety of supernatural creatures in a short amount of time without feeling too cumbersome. I would watch a cartoon based on the book in a heartbeat. The authors left more than enough room for a sequel and I definitely want to see more.
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