Sunday, November 27, 2005

COMIC REVIEW: Strangeways

Strangeways #1

Writing & Letters: Matt Maxwell

Art & Effects: Luis Guaragna

Cover Art: Steve Lieber

Publisher: Speakeasy Comics

Release Date: November 30th

I have to admit, when I heard the basic story elements present in Strangeways (werewolves and westerns) I immediately thought to myself, “Been there, done that.” I honestly do not remember seeing a comic with this these story elements before, but as I was an avid player of Werewolf a couple of years back, I was aware of the Werewolf: Wild West milieu and therefore this felt a bit like old hat. When I heard Matt Maxwell was looking for reviewers I went ahead and shot him and email, thinking he would never send me a copy. Imagine my surprise when a couple of weeks ago I received the first issue of Strangeways in my mailbox. And what a pleasant surprise it was.

While all the usual suspects of the western and horror genres put in appearances; Indians fighting the encroaching whites; a small town on the frontier living in fear of some nameless terror; a quietly conflicted gunslinger. Maxwell and his partner in crime Luis Guaragna have taken these concepts and infused them with a moody energy that made them shiny and new again. The story is heavy on action and mood and light on story, clearly framing the events to come later in the series. Guaragna’s lines seem almost unfinished which imbues the story with an energy that tumbles from panel to panel and carries the reader along with the story and he brings a noir sensibility to his use of light and shadow which serves to push the darkness of the story.

Ultimately this comic succeeds in ways that very few of the books from the majors I currently read. After finishing the first issue I went back and reread it, and not just because I had this review looming on the horizon, but rather because I wanted to experience Maxwell’s story again. I am eagerly looking forward to picking up an actual paper copy of the first issue (my review copy is a PDF file) and even more eagerly looking forward to picking up the second issue to see what Maxwell and Guaragna have in store for us.

UPDATE - 11/28/05

Today I received an email from Matt and it seems that the release of the first issue has been pushed back to an unknown date because of Speakeasy playing musical printers. As soon as he has a new release date I will pass it along to you.

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