Kire reviews All-Star Westerns #1

All Star Western #1
Written by Justin Gray/Jimmy Palmiotti
Art by Moritat

This book is an amalgamation, or to use the language of the streets a ‘mash-up’, of most of my favorite aspects of  literature and cinema: It skillfully combines subtle and overt allusions, a compelling who-done-it, and a well constructed story that makes sense.

It appears that some mysterious figure, reminiscent of Jack the Ripper, is butchering all of the prostitutes in Gotham. Doctor Amadeus Arkham is brought in by a reluctant fledgling police department to investigate this new type of killer. See, in the 1880’s the concept of serial killer didn’t exist; Its what made people like H.H. Holmes and Jack T. Ripper so evasive and frightening.

Our protagonist, Amadeus Arkham (yes, the asylum guy) takes on the role of master detective Sherlock Holmes. But not the overdone know-everything-bareknuckle boxer -Holmes of film lore,but Doyle’s investigative Holmes of Valley of Fear, one who goes along for the ride and deduces while the tale happens around him. Arkham’s Watson is a displaced and deformed bounty hunter , Jonah Hex.

Hex’s knowledge of anatomy doesn’t come from med school, but from his years on the verdant plains gutting, scalping, and shooting, his way across the Wild West. It is in this that the book amazes me. Gray/Palmiotti take the time to work in a valid reason for Hex to come, not only East, but to a major city. They discuss the feeling of displacement and claustrophobia he must feel through a case file that Arkham is writing. In short, they provide logic rationale for Hex to actually be there. As well as Northerner’s reactions his Confederate uniform, something not often addressed in his own series.

This book then pushes the boundary by having Hex and Arkham investigate the slayings. I was shocked, too. A book that takes place in the realm of the greatest detective that involves detecting. Sure, there a flashes of Arthur Conan Doyle, Psycho, and Devil in the White City, but it works to surprising effect.  If all of their books are this well illustrated and written, I don’t really care if they do a Citizen Kane story next as long as it delivers.

Of course my favorite moment of the book is a subtle incident indicating one of Gotham’s 20th century Rogues has not only fallen far from grace, but may be the victim of decades of selective breeding. Read it and chuckle.

Writing: 5/5 – There is a great deal of text here (and that is a great thing). It is well crafted and integral to both the plot and the way Arkham views everyone as a potential patient.  He cannot turn off his mind. He sees to the psychological root of everyone he encounters and makes no friends doing it.

Art: 5/5 – Not Moritat’s strongest showing, but considering how much occurs in each panel, the man was fighting an uphill battle. That said, there is a splash page I would love to have the original to. He is also one of the few artists who can do Hex and incorporate facial expressions.

Story: 5/5 – This book may not hold the line at 3.99, but it was 4 bucks very well spent.

Total: 100%

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4 Comments to “Kire reviews All-Star Westerns #1”

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  1. jaydee says:

    I’ve noticed that while some of the bigger name books are good, I’ve been rally impressed with the smaller ones! I haven’t read this issue, but now I certainly plan to, thanks to you.

    I really enjoyed Animal Man, Swamp Thing and VooDoo as well

  2. kire says:

    See, Voodoo was funny as hell and exploitative in a way completely unlike Catwoman or Starfire. Mainly because she has always been a stripper and so the story worked.

    I do love some the smaller books, too. I thoroughly enjoyed Birds of Prey.

  3. optimous douche says:

    I’m reviewing this one this week for Ain’t It Cool and agreed it was awesome. On the smaller books, DEATHSTROKE was also a stroke of good comic booking as was FRANKENSTEIN. I also enjoyed the story in Captain Atom, but the art was horrendous.

  4. JD (Host) says:

    I thought Deathstroke was just ok, not amazing, but good. And I still haven’t read my copy of Frankenstein…but Captain Atom bored the peepoops outta me.

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