Wednesday, July 28, 2010 - 10:44
PALE HORSE #2
PALE HORSE #2
Michael Alan Nelson
At the risk of sounding fanboyish, I am loving this series.
As I stated in my review
of issue #1, the story is essentially a Western twist on the must-acclaimed Lone Wolf and Cub
story; a man’s family (wife in this case) brutally murdered, he takes revenge with his young son in tow. However, the story does not feel derivative and, in this latest issue, the twists become tighter and the turns become sharper.
As a short recap of issue one, we met black frontiersman Thomas Cole as his world is shattered. His Indian wife raped, beaten and stabbed by white roughnecks, he gathers up his infant son, deposits him at the local church for safekeeping and takes his revenge on his wife’s murderer in the most brutal fashion he can -- declaring that he hasn’t killed any man for men don’t rape and murder women. Cole then spends the next several years raising his son while running from the law, living on the fringes of society as a bounty hunter and bringing in outlaws far worse than himself.
At the close of last issue, Cole has defended himself from a party of well-dressed men from “back East” who have ambushed him and his now school-aged son. He knows the bounty on his head isn’t worth traveling into the western territories to collect on, so why are they after him? As we see in this issue, Cole suspects, but doesn’t know for sure, the answer until later.
After playing detective for a bit, Cole encounters a name he’s familiar with: “Mr. Shepherd.” We also receive some “behind the scenes” type exposition as Mr. Shepherd himself, while dealing with some subordinates, explains that Cole isn’t just any man or even any ex-Union soldier. He was a spy, and a damned good one. We also learn that Shepherd fears whatever secrets Cole knows about him, and that he’d believed Cole dead. I don’t feel I’m spoiling much here by saying this, but I won’t divulge the last few pages of the comic. I want you to buy it and see for yourself. You won’t be sorry.
Michael Alan Nelson has proven himself infinitely adaptable in his writing. It seems, at times, that he’s writing at least half of the books Boom! publishes though with this comic, it’s not hard to see why. The action is fast-paced, but the story moves smoothly and doesn’t feel rushed. We are constantly given glimpses of Cole’s personality and history, without it being shoved in our faces (barring the opening scene of this issue with Mr. Shepherd, but even that did not feel forced or out of place).
Christian Dibari’s art has improved substantially since last issue, and it was good to begin with. There is a fair change to the style, actually, though it works. Last issue’s art felt a bit like Leonardo Manco, who is providing brilliant covers for this series, but this issue immediately made me think of Tang Eng Huat. The issues I mentioned in issue one have disappeared. If Dibari keeps this up, he’ll be a superstar before long.
Overall, a great follow-up to a fantastic first issue. If the rest of this series is as good as the first two installments, I’ll be a happy comic fan.
Pale Horse #1 Review