By C. Michael Forsyth
By C. Michael Foryth
When zombies overrun a small town in the Old West, only one man can stop the menace – a Man with No Name!
In Dead West, a graphic novel by Rick Spears and Rob G., the steely eyed anti-hero Clint Eastwood portrayed in westerns such as The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, is injected into a classic zombie-siege scenario.
There have been quite a few comics in which cowboys battle zombies, but this little gem is the first I’ve read that is specifically a spaghetti western. All the conventions of both genres are honored. And the Man with No Name — a tough, lethal gunslinger of few words – is just the kind of guy you want around when the zombie apocalypse breaks out.
Let me hasten to add that Clint’s name is never mentioned, nor is there any direct reference to the old shoot ’em ups filmed in Italy in the ’60s. I suspect the creators of the slim, black and white book couldn’t afford the rights to the squinty star’s image. But everything about the hero, from the trademark poncho – tossed back for shootouts on Main Street – and the cigar handing from the lips, to his casual gunfighting stance – tells us this is the iconic figure. To boot, his nemesis is a Mexican who relies on animal cunning to stay alive, just like the one played by Eli Wallach in the famous flicks directed by Sergio Leone.
In the graphic novel, an Indian boy’s village is massacred, and when he grows up, he takes horrible revenge on the white townsfolk who did the deed. He casts a spell that causes all dead folks within a circle surrounding the town to rise from their graves and attack the living. A small group of survivors takes refuge in a boarded up room, but they don’t have a prayer until the fearless and resourceful gunfighter rides into town. As with Clint’s westerns, the Man with No Name is cool and amoral on the surface, but proves himself capable of compassion.
The drawing in Dead West is not especially skillful. But the storytelling is excellent, and the mix of genres succeeds.
This review was written by the author of a new thriller, The Identity Thief. Check out the book trailer HERE