This week’s lead review for Wednesday Comics is Shaolin Cowboy – Cruel To Be Kin #7, the finale for Geof Darrow’s most recent series with the character. In addition, the Wednesday Comics Team has a rundown of the new #1s and finales from non-Big 2 publishers, all of which you can find below … enjoy!
Wednesday Comics: SHAOLIN COWBOY – CRUEL TO BE KIN #7
Shaolin Cowboy – Cruel To Be Kin #7
Story/Art: Geof Darrow
Colors: Dave Stewart
Color Flats: Mark Sweeney, Raunak Singh, Fred Paculba, and Josh Laird
Color Flat Assists: Gabe Fischer
Letterer: Nate Piekos
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
This week’s Shaolin Cowboy – Cruel To Be Kin #7 by Geoff Darrow and team brings the mini-series to its end. And like each issue that came before it, this week’s is packed with so much content that you almost want to read it twice (something I highly recommend … there are SO MANY great background gags). If you haven’t been reading the book, Cruel To Be Kin found the Shaolin Cowboy on his continued path to enlightenment, but his mission gets interrupted by all manner of mutant and monstrous villains, from talking Komodo dragons to Hog Kong, a giant talking pig from his past who is seeking revenge (lots of people always want revenge on the Shaolin Cowboy).
In any other story, a description like the one above would probably make little sense. But the beauty of Shaolin Cowboy – Cruel To Be Kin — and really the character and concept as a whole — is how creator Darrow, along with longtime colorist Dave Stewart, is able to pull off so many tropes with its adventures. The series succeeds due to Darrow being a master of sequential storytelling, and this latest series might be the best showcase for his skills yet. The world of Shaolin Cowboy can seem impenetrable, but with each series (and especially this one), Darrow finds a way to slide the reader into this weirdness of his with such ease and confidence that the reader just embraces and accepts everything that comes their way. In brief, the unnatural just feels natural.
Darrow illustrates everything on the page (even a dog pooping) with the same care and attention to detail that has long made him such a unique and immediately identifiable cartoonist. Each panel is delicately drawn and composed, even if the content of it is something violent, nasty or gross. Darrow’s skill just elevates everything he draws. There’s an element of stream of consciousness to this story, a feeling that Darrow is letting his imagination and id go absolutely wild. But Darrow is seasoned and talented enough to understand how a hero’s journey story works too, so there is still enough of a structure to carry a narrative forward.
On top of all that, no one can draw fight scenes like Darrow. He can slow down or speed up action on the page, something not easy to do with printed images that don’t literally move. Oh, then also toss in an irreverent sense of humor. What it all creates is a reading experience unlike any other. And that is really the best thing I can say about Shaolin Cowboy – Cruel To Be Kin #7 (and again, really, the title and concept as a whole). This book is a definite buy for me and one of the best titles of 2022.
Wednesday Comics Quick Hits
Above Snakes #1 (Image Comics): This issue wraps up the Sean Lewis, Hayden Sherman, and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou miniseries of revenge in the American West. Our lead, Dirt, has been an interesting character to follow along with during this story as a man with one goal — revenge for the death of his wife. The conclusion of this issue landed strong and left the reader wondering, even for a moment, if this is really the end of Dirt’s revenge fueled mission, and that small moment elevated an already enjoyable issue. With this finale now out, Above Snakes is a great miniseries that has an engaging story with stunning art that really should be read by anyone who’s a fan of comics. (Chris Partin)
- Door to Door, Night by Night #1 (Vault Comics): A welcome addition to Vault Comics’ catalogue of horror comics, Door to Door, Night by Night #1 from writer Cullen Bunn, artist Sally Cantirino, colorist Dee Cunniffe, and letterer Andworld Design explores the nighttime activities of an interesting crew of door-to-door salespeople after they’ve finished for the day. The building dread and tension is immediately felt in this book when newcomer Maxine joins the group. She has as many secrets as the rest the cast, though hers are the type that the others are better off not knowing. This first issue explores what it means when “everybody’s got a story” and how people can move forward knowing theirs is still being written. So, hop in the van, start knocking on doors (oh my god, no not that one!), and pick up this series to join in on what is bound to be a horrifying yet entertaining journey through the small towns of America, and the terrors hiding in each. (Bryan Reheil)
- I Hate Fairyland #1 (Image Comics): Skottie Young returns to I Hate Fairyland in this easily accessible sequel, weaving a narrative about adult mediocrity. He revisits Gert after her time in Fairyland, which has made her the developmentally-stunted adult that she is now. She’s aimless and can’t hold a job down, which feels resonant with the nature of the current job market, but she was once a feared warrior in Fairyland, and the creative team offers gorgeous, gory snapshots of that past life. This time the art is done by Brett Bean, whose work has a cartoonish whimsy that feels like a natural extension of Young’s own work; highlighted by the vibrant colors of Jean-Francois Beaulieu and the expressive lettering of Nate Piekos. I Hate Fairyland #1 sets the pace for a return to Gert’s old stomping grounds and the promise of gratuitous violence; something that Gert and the creative team have a very vivid imagination for. (Khalid Johnson)
- Kroma #1 (Image Comics): With Kroma #1, Lorenzeo de Felici writes, pencils, and — most critically — colors this striking action/horror/social horror comic. In grayscale, severe body language, and pompous ritual, he builds a rotten Last City for a humanity that has stripped the color from their world for survival’s sake. In verdant green and deep blue, beauty and danger, and two fumbling kids trying to see beyond the dogma that’s been heaped on them, he builds the possibility of life beyond the flat and venal. It’s a gorgeous, compelling start with a gut punch of a cliffhanger—well worth reading. (Justin Harrison)
- Resident Alien: The Book of Love #1 (Dark Horse Comics): Writer Peter Hogan and artist Steve Parkhouse are back at Resident Alien for a seventh installment in the series, The Book of Love. As someone who was introduced to Resident Alien by the SyFy show, I was excited to find out there were so many entries in the comic series that I could dive into. The Book of Love picks up after the previous volume, Your Ride is Here, and wastes no time getting into the stakes. The men in black return to Patience, Dan gives Harry some much needed advice, and gossip about Harry and Asta has made its way around town. The Book of Love #1 is a solid start for what is bound to be a story full of small town crime, shadowy government agents, and, of course, love. As someone coming from the show, I was worried I would have a hard time slipping into the world of the comic. But that world, and the characters, are so well established at this point that it feels comfortable and lived in. It feels like the Pacific Northwest and small town America, which I think is the smartest thing Hogan and Parkhouse have done because it keeps the alien-solves-mysteries part grounded and compelling. If you’re a fan of the show, it’s worth going back and reading the previous volumes. If you love the comic series, this is a very welcome continuation of the story. (Michael Kurt)
Rogue State #1 (Black Mask Studios): As the US comes down from an exhausting election season, Black Mask’s Rogue State by writer Matteo Pizzolo, artist C. Granda, colorist Brad Simpson, and letterer Jim Campbell hits the scene, imagining a United States of America where democracy has fallen apart. Pizzolo’s second foray into political speculative fiction is distressingly close to reality. Rogue State #1 introduces readers to a United States where a contested presidential election has led to armed militias with legal carte-blanche. Despite this first issue requiring a lot of table setting, the world Pizzolo sets up is immediately compelling thanks to Granda’s art, which brings this alternate future to brutal life. Brad Simpson’s colors cast the grungy lines and heavy shadows in a violet haze that drives home the noxious atmosphere. Some of the dialogue may be occasionally heavyhanded but it’s a minor nitpick that is outweighed by the richness of the characters, their conflicts, and the damning commentary on America’s love affair with vigilante justice and incendiary rhetoric. (Tim Rooney)
- Voyagis #1 (Image Comics): Voyagis #1 is a thrilling start to a new sci-fi adventure, with Sumeyye Kesign tackling every creative duty in style. Readers are thrown into a desolate alien world where organic resources are clearly scarce and it’s easy to immediately sympathize with the lead characters. From the writing to the art, personality leaps off the pages. There’s enough world-building to establish curiosity, but not too much to be overwhelming in a first issue. This issue is a promising launch point for things to come. (Alex Batts)
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