From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays, No.102: The Wild West That Never Was
Hey awesome surfer of the interwebs, welcome back to another edition of the all-ages comics column, From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays! This week I was in a real solid western mood, coming off a high watching my favorite spaghetti western Django, that got a really nice blu-ray treatment, so I thought I would peek at some great titles this week which includes sadly the last (for now) issue of Reed Gunther, the graphic novel Cow Boy, and a title that has nothing to do with the wild west at all, but still equally as cool, Randomveus. Let’s get down to it, little doggies!
This is sadly the last issue of Reed Gunther for now. Everything brothers Shane and Chris have built up over the last nine issues comes together here in issue 10 for a satisfying conclusion of 28 pages of coolness, until they return to these characters one day.
Issue #10 is part 2 of the epic “Fiends Forever,” and last time, our favorite bear Sterling was possessed by the demonic Mr. Todd and caused a lot of trouble. We pick up here with Reed, who would do anything to save his friend, agreeing to sell his soul to free Sterling from this spell (and humorously, a jar of the world’s greatest pickles and for Starla’s machete never to dull, since he doesn’t want to get ripped off). The exchange is made, but in doing so Mr. Todd jumps into Reed’s body and turns into a super powered demonic cowboy, complete with flame mustache. Evil-Reed goes after Sterling and Starla, who duke it out onto a riverboat, where at the same time, Reed battles Mr. Todd in his mind for possession of his body. I don’t want to give too much more away here, so I’ll just say to keep it spoiler free that the ending is everything we’d want Reed Gunther to end on, including key characters moments and a whole lot of excitement.
As mentioned, the Brothers-Houghton do nice work here. On the art side, Chris gives us lots of excitement, as well as a really great looking two-page spread of the wacky battle going on inside Reed’s mind, which is pretty awesome to look at (Note To Houghtons: That’d make an awesome art poster for you guys to sell). Also, Chris does some cool design work for the demon-possessed Reed with this cool flame-hair design. Writing side of things, Shane wraps up the story nicely, giving us a few character moments we want, and making everything feel tied up both in the issue and in the series, while still leaving it open for future adventures.
The Houghtons are moving onto some other projects they have cooking for now, and have said one day they will return with more Reed Gunther after they get some other stuff off their plate. We look forward to seeing what they cook up next. As for issue #10, it’s great and you should pick it up. If you haven’t read any Reed Gunther yet, get on it! The series was our no. 1 pick last year for an all-ages comic title, and a collected edition of the first set of issues is out now, with a second collection collecting the rest of the series due soon.
Cow Boy: A Boy and His Horse
Written By: Nate Cosby
Art By: Chris Eliopoulos
Additional Material By: Roger Langridge, Brain Clevinger, Scott Wegener, Mitch Gerads, Colleen Coover, and Mike Maihack
The first thing I have to say about Cow Boy: A Boy and His Horse, is that although the art is pretty cool to look at, and the story is really interesting and becomes addicting to read as it moves along, it HAS THE MOST DEPRESSING ENDING EVER! I don’t think that is as much of a spoiler as it is a disclaimer. You wouldn’t want someone watching Old Yeller without a heads up that it gets a little depressing in its final moments, right? I mean, unless you hate that person. Well, same here. Reader, I don’t hate you, so I have to tell ya, although there are a ton of neat things about this book, writer Cosby has decided to color with the tragic heart like plenty of western tales, and provides a downer ending that will leave you wanting to write a nasty letter to Cosby, telling him to write a sequel to wrap this up and give us a happier ending.
So what’s Cow Boy about? It spins the tale of 10-year-old (well, he says he’s ten, but he looks way younger) Boyd, who is off as a bounty hunter, but specifically hunts down members of his own family, who are a bunch of questionable individuals and pretty much abandoned Boyd all his life. From his father, to his brother, to even his Grandpappy, he goes after ’em to collect his bounty and get revenge.
With the exception of the terrible ending, Cosby constructs an interesting story that is easy to become fascinated with. Why is this kid doing this? Is he really going to turn in his Dad? Why is his gun shaped like a horse–who cares, it’s a bad-ass design. By the end of the five chapters in this book, we really feel for poor Boyd…then Cosby sucker punches you. Art by Chris Eliopoulos looks great, very much in the same style his Franklin Richards comics over at Marvel are in. His west looks a little cartoony, but overall carries the same grim tone of sadness that is reflected in the life of Boyd. Several additional 2-3 page one-shot wild west stories are included here between chapters, all with a different tone and flavor of imagination. “The Wireless West” by Clevinger, Wegener, and Gerads steals the show and makes me wish it had a title of its own.
So, you want to say, “Drew, if I can get over the depressing ending, or I really like stuff that puts kids through rough crap, like “Nobody’s Boy Remi,” should I pick this up?” Yeah, you definitely should, if not for anything than just to check out the cool art by Eliopoulos, which is always a joy to look at. I hated the ending, though, but as I have said before in this column, sincerely to each their own, that’s the magic of comics.
Cow Boy: A Boy and His Horse is available in a printed collection from Archaia, or as individual digital chapters from Archaia on comiXology.
Randomveus volume 1, which collects the Randomveus comics all together in one nice hard cover, has been out for a little bit from Udon, and if you haven’t checked it out yet but love the world of video game and anime action visuals, you should take a look.
The comic tells the story of Raimundo, a super strong/buff guy with a killer-diller pompadour, who by chance of fate is pulled into the world of Randomveus while trying to take a crap one day, and now is stuck working as a delivery guy for life, next to the silent but sweet Melody, and the quick talking blob-creature Bloob. To best describe the world of Randomveus, it’s kind of like Ralph Bakshi’s Cool World, where nothing but insanity and anarchy seem to rein, but instead of the American cartoon characters and stereotypes of Bakshi’s film, here every single video game and anime character stereotype you can think of is thrown into a big blender. It’s really enjoyable to get into. As our package delivery team tries to just do their job, they face demons, giant monsters, sexy pirates, cyborg gorillas, and the breakout of a war in which they team with a guy who is pretty much the combination of Superman and Totoro in one being.
Does it sound crazy? Yeah, it is, but rather than an absurdest comic book that’s difficult to follow, it’s just a comic where writer Bermingham wanted to create a fun place where anything could happen and pretty much does to these characters, giving us both action and plenty of laughs. The art by Cruz looks great, and is up there with the other well polished art from Udon, that pretty much looks like they are screen shots of an anime flick (but they’re not, it’s just how sharp and colorful Udon makes their stuff).
Randomveus volume 1 is out now in a nice big hard cover for your enjoyment.
That’s it for this week, reader! See you next, and until then, get your kaiju-game on!