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Evil Geek Book Report – Indie Spotlight: Tall Tales from the Badlands

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Good day to all you low down, dirty varmints! Today I have a triple barreled review for you guys, and will be taking a look at a new comic that I was just introduced to, and let’s be honest, it’s pretty freaking awesome. Featuring a revolving door of artists and writers, mainly the Fahey boys Sean and Sheamus, with artists coming and going depending on the issue and story, we have a nice combination of people working on these books. I apologize in advance to the artists for not remembering all of their names, but I would be remiss to not at least mention them. There are quite a few, and all of them have done stellar work. I was lucky to be able to read issues 1-3, and now I want more. Why, you ask? Because it is exactly what I needed at this time. I’ll tell you why.

These tall tales are short…like 3-5 pages maximum short, and I love them for that. The past few years of my life have been filled with massive amounts of stories and overarching plots, which can definitely get exhausting sometimes. My whole summer was dedicated to reading the entire Game of Thrones series, and due to so much treachery and plot lines, it was very nice to have something that is built and resolved within such a short space. I love it. The crazy thing is that even though most of these stories are short, they carry maximum impact. The very first story had me thinking it would go one way, and at the very end, something amazing happens that I was not prepared for, so much so that I screamed when it happened. I shouted at the page as if I were shouting at Walter White on screen. “ What the EFF!!!!” was said quite a bit, but in the best of ways. It just kept bringing a giant smile to my face when things would twist right at the very end, but not in a Sixth Sense sort of way, more like in a this bastard just got what he had coming to him way. It’s funny because in most westerns, the bad guy is a very compelling character, but in this, it seems like the author really hates the bad guys, but loves to write them. Since it is the wild west, it’s the sort of place where almost everyone is a bad guy. You feel for the stories where the good guys get worked over like crazy, only to see them come back in the end to get their sweet revenge. Now it doesn’t necessarily mean that the good guys are actually good, but the bad guys are just so bad that anything else just gets trumped in their place. I am also a huge fan of the overweight baron type of character who we all know is almost always the villain of every story. I also do not know how these guys stay big in the desert heat. It’s almost a miracle that they don’t die just from overheating. But I digress.

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The first issue deals with mainly standard western affair of corrupt law makers, bandits and sheriffs doing everything they can to keep the peace. You also get a couple detailing a town or a person in town getting revenge on someone who the law either acquitted or could just not put away in jail. It’s somewhat satisfying but horrifying at the same time to see what sort of practices went down in that time period. Sometimes you knew someone was guilty, but there was just no evidence to put them away. That’s when it comes down to old fashioned western justice. Wait till they are going to the bathroom late at night, lock the door, and set that bitch on fire. It’s mortifying but all together satisfying. I also really enjoyed how they had the language down pretty much perfectly. The old west had a sort of stunted chivalry to it and everyone spoke rather intelligently, but with a few words missing. You can almost compare it to Knight speak, if that makes sense. It’s chivalrous but not fully completed. It gives a nice bit of life to the stories themselves as I can’t say how awkward it is to hear some words in a period piece when you know that those words were not around at that time. I swore if I read the words YOLO or Swag, that I would either kill myself or refuse to read the rest of it. I almost vomited just writing those words for the sake of example. Ugh. I really enjoyed the stories overall in the first issue and was clamoring to read the second. Especially since the stories were so good. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but you will meet the most badass dog ever, and the most badass mother ever. You can really see the “do anything to survive” mentality going through their heads when push comes to shove, and its awesome to see how they play out. Abigail is a fucking badass…sorry for the language but it was definitely necessary.

badlands2nationThe second issue continues the style of short stories, but this one ups the ante quite a bit. I honestly can’t say how much I love the short stories, and it rarely gets old. Like mentioned earlier, I have been swamped in plots and long stories, so this is refreshing. I very much do enjoy long stories and seeing characters evolve and change over time, but sometimes is suffocating. The short stories continue and up the sadness factor too. They really know their western stuff and they really do a good job in making them seem authentic. The black and white style of art is perfect for this medium as well. It helps the characters feel like they pop out of you, and the shading and shadows work perfectly to convey the landscape. I love black and white art as well. Something about its simplicity appeals to me, mainly because it is not too busy. I love color pages as well, but I just don’t think color would have fit properly into this series of stories. The west had a very brownish and earthy tone to it, and I think the black and white helps it. Also, not to go too far into morality or substance matters, but I think the black and white adds to the story because a lot of times back in the west, disputes were often just that, black and white. There was rarely a grey area, and that adds to the story as it draws you into its ‘” this way or that way” mentality. You’re either guilty or innocent, and you can bet your ass if you got a guilty, you are going to get hanged or sent in front of the firing squad. It’s crazy.

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The third issue to be honest, was my least favorite of the 3. Not because of the style or anything, but because it goes a bit more supernatural. It invites zombies, ghosts and even a trip to a makeshift hell into the mix. Not to say that it is bad, far from it. I just enjoyed the solid, steeped in real life western stories of the first two. I enjoyed the third, particularly one story with an out of time aspect to it, which really made me wonder if I was reading a different story. You hear them speaking about some things that shouldn’t make sense, but they all do at the end. I really enjoyed that one. The third issue also introduced us to quite possibly the two most evil men in the whole series so far, and I really wanted to reach through the page and punch them both right in the face. Hard. That also goes back to my previous statement of heavyset men in the western era. They are always going to be assholes, no matter which way you cut it. The third one also had some really cool stories, but they just didn’t seem to fit with the other ones. It seemed slightly Jonah Hex style, but I still liked it quite a bit. If there is only one thing I can say about the short story format of the series, is that sometimes, I really did want more of specific characters. It goes back to my long story sensibilities, but it also goes to show how powerful a story can be even if it is only 5 pages long. It blew my mind.

Now you all know that I do not give number scores to anything, so you are all going to have to just trust me and my opinion on this one. You will love this series, and I have already told the rest of the geeks to read it too. I wasn’t even sure what I was expecting when I asked to be the one to review this one. The only thing that was going through my head was that I love westerns, and thought this would be right up my alley. Needless to say, I was correct. The short story style, the art depictions, everything just seems to work so well in this series. I honestly look forward to reading more of these, and can’t wait to get my hands on them. Do yourself a favor and download these comics or grab a physical copy if you can. You won’t be disappointed. You can find them all here!

Follow me on Twitter! @ArthurHarkness

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About Arthur Harkness

I like things, and things like me back

Posted on September 20, 2013, in COMICS!, Evil Geek Book Report, Indie Spotlight, Reviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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