Wonders of the Wild West...

Review by Mervyn Charles.

Everyone likes a good Western huh? Let’s have a look at this offering from Accent UK, where they take you back into a Wild West full of gunslingers, zombies and Old Ones!

Western is a smart black and white anthology with many of the stories produced in a style anyone familiar with the “Dollars Trilogy” will instantly recognise and appreciate. Many of the strips have minimal dialogue, forcing you to pay closer attention to the artwork as quite often it is the artwork that drives and explains the stories. There is heavy use of the facial close up, especially the eyes, again something that pays homage to the classic “Spaghetti Westerns” of Sergio Leone without coming over too clichéd.

There are a few real surprises in the anthology as despite the title it’s not all about gunslingers, cattle rustlers and high noon shootouts. The cross-genre horror tie ins of “High Moon” and “Last Train to Jubilation” were two stand out tales and while they both start in the classic Western style, you soon realise that there is more going on than initially meets the readers eye.

“A Fistful of Corpsemeat” must be unique in that is has to be the first zombie-based Western with the dialogue written in a limerickesque style. This, combined with pun-laden background artwork reminds me of the classic Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill comic “Marshal Law” mini series.

“The New West” is a thought-provoking story, being a tale about social evolution or the lack of social evolution depending on the perspective of the reader.

Another personal favourite of mine is “The Way of Things”. Though the artwork and style differs from most of the graphic novel in that it lacks the bleakness and feel you would associate with a Western, the story itself is not just emotive but also politically relevant to this day.

“The Legend of El Burro” and “Lucky Starr” are two stories that are well worth their weight. Both have elements of humour, albeit black humour, and fit in well with the rest of the feel generated throughout this anthology.

With the exception of “Cowboy Interviews” the tales are all stand alone stories with no tie-ins to each other or recurring characters and in the main all work well as they are snappy and to the point. This adds not just to the feel of the stories but to the strength of the publication as the lack of recurring characters adds an additional level of diversity to what you are reading.

At £7.99 for 192 pages of funny, thought-provoking or just good old-fashioned gun-slinging action, you cannot go wrong with this well-presented anthology. Overall, I would recommend “Western” as it has something for every taste without resorting to too many clichés about the Wild West. None of the stories are overly long and with the exception of “To Catch a Dragon’s Tale” all move at a pace that keeps the reader interested. Western is Published by AccentUK.

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'To Catch The Dragon's Tail', Art by Tim Hill, Story by Paul Bowles