by Pam Auditore

Deadlands TPB Cover

Deadlands: Dead Man’s Hand vol. 1

I’ve never played Deadlands.  I know nothing about it.  I’m not into role playing or most video games.  I once played Grand Theft Auto. But it  doesn’t count, ‘cuz I never played for points, only for evil.  Running your car over everyone in sight, while shooting randomly, hardly makes a  game player.

Still, I know  people who developed their fondness for comics by following their favorite game character to their local comics retailer, to be dismissive of comics based on games.

So I come at this review purely as a comic book fan.  Moreover, as a pleasantly surprised horror-comic fan, without any practical knowledge of the game on which these stories are based.



1) “The Devil’s Six Gun”            2) “Massacre at Red Wing”
Writer: David Gallaher                   Writers:Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
Artist: Steve Ellis                               Artist: Lee Moder
Colorist: Steve Ellis                           Colorist: Michael Atiyeh
Letter: Troy Peteri                             Letterer: Troy Peteri
Editor: Ron Marz                               Editor: Ron Marz

3) “Death was Silent”                4) “Black Water”
Editor/Writer: Ron Marz                Writer: Jeff Mariotte
Artist: Bart Sears                              Artist: Book Turner
Colorist:Michael Atiyeh                 Colorist: C.Edward Sellner
Letterer: Troy Peteri                       Letterer:Troy Peteri
Editor: Ron Marz                              Editor: Ron Marz

5) “What a Man’s Gotta Do”  6) “Vengance”
Writer: Matthew Cutter                  Writer: Shane Lacy Hensley
Artist: Ulises Roman                       Artist: Sean Lee
Colorist: Doug Spencer                   Inker: Mike Munshaw
Letterer: Jacob Bascle                    Colorist/Editor: C. Edward Sellner
Editor: C. Edward Sellner             Letterer: Jacob Bascle

Publisher: IDW


Deadlands: Deadman’s Hand Vol. 1 is  a collection of  short stories based on Pinnacle Entertainment’s flagship Role-playing board game: Deadlands. For whose characters, IDW rounded up some of the best talents in the Horror and Western genres to flesh out.   The game is what Pinnacle calls a “Weirdest” Western, written by Shane Lacy Hensley, merging fictional Western settings with familiar character types and situations, would be cliché, if not mittigated by  the elements of  Steam Punk, Magic, and Science Fiction, and mostly served up within the context of the horror genre.

There is plenty of action, gun play and violence.  Delivering enough emotional hooks, and dread, to be horror, without a needless gore-fest.  (I have no problem with gore, but not for it’s own sake.)  In a few stories, I couldn’t help but notice  the mechanics of the game poking through and interrupting  the narrative.   Aliens, inexplicably, appear for our hero to fight, taking her out of her personal quest; characters enter a maze for no compelling reason; and sudden scene jumps feels like characters are being hurried along to the next play window.

Still, there are stories which move so smoothly, as to feel original, achieved through exceptional storytelling  and art. Ron Marz’s and Bart Sears’s “Death was Silent” and David Gallaher’s and Steve Ellis’s Faustian character study in: “The Devil’s Six Gun.”

My fav being “Death was Silent.” Delivering unexpected plot twists and making me want to read Marz’s  script just so I could see were he ends and Bart Sears begins.  Sears’s panels are worthy of study for young comic artists  to see how layout creates pacing, mood, and builds tension.  His choice of panels are as impressive as the art work within.

Meanwhile, the always dependable Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray deliver the most butt kicking tale of the collection for the character Clementine. Who is a really, really, really white half Native American lady searching for her birth mother, along with her German Shepherd.  She nobly rescues a Western town fighting creatures who look like they invaded from Play-Doh Land.

I’m sure fans of the Deadlands Game can will enjoy seeing some of their characters and narratives fleshed out.  As, I’m sure, there is much I’m not getting, since, I’m a non-player.

But standing on it’s own as  western/horror comic collection.  Deadlands: Dead Man’s Hand vol. 1, ain’t  half bad–partners.

Available now in stores and on Amazon.


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