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Dead West
By Rick Spears and Rob G
Published by Gigantic Graphic Novels; $14.95

At the risk of spoiling it for you, the plot is all in the title: Dead West is Zombies in The Old West, aping the visual appeal of Tony Moore's early Walking Dead art, with a somewhat anemic script that fails to either engage or entertain.

Why are there zombies in the old west? Spears tries to introduce some political relevance about the destruction of the Native American people, but there's not enough weight to the culture's depiction to give the reader the sense that Spears cares much about the subject beyond the most facile elements. There's some magical ritual hinted at, but again, this is all fairly lightweight window dressing to get to the, you'll pardon the pun, meat of the story, those Zombies in The Old West.

There are good people and bad people in the town this all takes place in ("Lazarus," get it? Ha ha ha, Lazarus!), and a pregnant prostitute who gives birth during the course of the story. But for the most part, the characters are all ciphers and I was left not caring one way or the other if they got shot or eaten by zombies. The only death in the book -- and the only moment that had any real emotional resonance for me -- was the hanging of the father of the prostitute's child. The cruelty of the sheriff and the plight of the prostitute and her unborn child have enough emotional and narrative weight that I wish the sequence had been saved for a better story.

Spears and G probably thought they had a better work on their hands than Dead West ultimately proves to be; I honestly wish I liked it more, as it clearly is meant to do more than merely cash in on the current cross-genre craze. But the script is not fully developed enough to bring the book above average -- there's an entire, apparently important sequence at the end that I simply could not decode the significance of, and G's art wildly veers from the accomplished to the indistinct -- a scene introducing a Gatling Gun into the conflict fails mightily because the people drawn behind the gun are given more weight, detail and prominence than the poorly-sketched gun. Any good editor could have explained this to the artist and had it fixed. The last page seems meant to convey depth and a sense of closure, but all I see is inky blobs that look like an idea for the final page.

As I said, I wish I liked Dead West more than I do. But in the past few years I've read and watched a lot of good zombie stories, and I'm not even particularly fond of the subgenre. So for me to get really excited about yet another zombie tale in the wake of movies like Shaun of the Dead, 28 Days Later and the remake of Dawn of the Dead, or comics like Walking Dead and Remains, it's going to have to rise above average. Dead West tries to do that, but an unconvincing script, problems in the art and an overall sense that the story is twice as long as it needs to be keep it from meeting that standard. Grade: 3/5

-- Alan David Doane

Send review copies to:
Alan David Doane
Comic Book Galaxy Reviews
24 Larose St.
Glens Falls NY 12801

The ADD Blog by Alan David Doane. Trouble with Comics Reviews of comics and graphic novels. Commentary about the artform and industry of comics. Get back to the main page.

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