"Tall Tales from the Badlands #3" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Black Jack Press
Written by Mark Wheaton, Sean Fahey, Robert Napton, and Matt Dembicki
Illustrated by Jerry Decaire, John Fortune, Franco Cespedes, Ezequiel Rosingana, and Ruben Rojas
2013, 52 Pages
I know for certain that I wouldn't last two minutes in the Wild West. The fact that I call it “the Wild West” is probably an indicator of how useless I'd be in that setting. Men were men and I'm the kind of guy that just wants to eat cookies and read comics. Fortunately for me, I can do that in the 21st century with books like Tall Tales from the Badlands, a western anthology from indie publisher Black Jack Press.
The comic includes five short stories from a variety of creators, starting with a traditional western motif and adding in a horror element such as zombies or ghosts. Each one has a great twist to it that's often difficult to predict. The mixing of the genres works well here, as the creators use the best elements of both to craft some pretty cool comics.
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There is not a bad story in this issue, but there are a few favorites. “Apologies” by Sean Fahey and John Fortune with Kel Nuttall definitely stands out. It follows a family who is stranded in the wilderness. They haven't seen another soul for ages and they're starving. The father sees little options to save his loved ones and decides to take matters into his own hands. This is a pretty dark tale, but it only gets more twisted as you turn the pages. Every time you think you have it figured out, the creative team pulls the rug out from under you. They manage to do this a few times in a nine-page story. Upon finishing it, I let out a quiet,“Damn.”
Fortune's art style captures the desperation this family is going through. You can gather so much from the way they look with their sunken eyes and haggard faces. They're at the end of their rope. The innocence of the children sticks out too. They don't deserve this.
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There are three pin-ups included at the tail end of the issue. Each presents a pretty cool image that I would love to see explored further. Mauro Reifschneider's gunfighter playing cards with a werewolf, minotaur, and lizard man is especially interesting. I have so many questions about what is going on here and what led to the guns coming out.
Tall Tales from the Badlands is a solid anthology. There's something for everyone, as it explores the darker side of the western, often with a supernatural angle. The twist endings are a nice touch and will make you want to re-read the comic to see the stories in a different light.