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DEADLANDS: Raven #1
by Alex W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/16/2020 14:31:50

Ah, Deadlands. It's a game I love, but it has Issues up to the ears, and this issue has all the Issues. Racial insensitivity, historical insensitivity, little bit of the sexism that gets a whole lot worse towards the end of the story in further issues (the recurrent theme of women being identical empty vessels for their sexier forebears is...disturbing at this point)...oof. It also basically does for Raven what the Star Wars prequels did for Darth Vader, so if you want your badasses badass and a tragic backstory to have the true weight of a man's descent into darkness? Dare I say: "NOoOOOooOOoo."

---- essay incoming ----

The main faults are twofold, spreading cracks throughout: firstly, the story talks about systemic prejudice without understanding its nature, buying into the whole "hatred is bad; hating someone for killing your mother is exactly as bad as the guy who murdered your mother because he decided he hated her face one day" thing that divorces ancestral action ("he hated!") from collective responsability towards the collectively disenfranchised ("he hated, we let him, we scorned you as hate-filled when you asked for justice"). Had the throwaway girlfriend been given a little character, Paul/Raven (now there's a fascinating angle brought up and never discussed) could have run up fearing for her life and straight into a moment of character change not rendered petty or anachronistic (the notion of race would not be one Raven grew up with) when she, always safe, blinks at him and says "...but of course they didn't come to kill us, we're white." Tie the introduction of the notion of race to that traumatic moment. Have him hurl away the cross that should have protected him, screaming "WHITE GOD!" in accusation at the altar, deny his Christian name when Delicate Arayan Whatsherface seeks to reason with him and there and then reclaim his dream-got name of Raven.

The refusal to face systemic prejudice leads to a particularly grotesque moment where the protagonist is actually blamed for a real, historical massacre. Just...imagine if someone wrote an alt-history where their Romany protagonist personally offended Hitler and that was why 220,000 people got sent to the gas chambers, just to fuel their personal angst. An entire people. This adds nothing to the story, trivialises Native pain, and apologises for the Paxton Boys (which even the colonial government didn't) as a kind of inevitable force of nature, like the product of Summon Bad Guys rather than endemic imperialist greed. You want a horror story? Betrayal? Have Raven recognise a traveller who'd been that way before, prayed with him, perhaps, crushing some grandmother's skull. White men we'd seen smiling, singing hymns, kissing their children. After the above break with Christianity, have him fail to kill anyone in the heat of the moment: have him beaten down, left unrecognised as breathing among the dead, and then thrown into jail when he tries to attack a perpetrator yet uncaught when he encounters him in the street. Let Raven ferment that frustrated hatred, and when he gets out plan and so get away with far more killing than he would ever have done otherwise, this time of women and children first: striking horribly logical, chillingly understandable blows against the occupation's future on his people's land. A killing in the heat of the moment is an animal action or reaction, not a start of darkness. Killing in cold blood is what stains the soul.

Secondly, Raven himself lacks authenticity. We can't mourn his people because they're never more than generic (white) ideas of Some Natives, even when they're supposedly Westernised to being indistinguishable from colonists save for skin and that fatal better claim on the coveted land (the buckskins even reappear in the art with no explanation). We can't mourn his language because he dismisses it and all sympathy we might gain by listening to how he feels about being the last speaker. We can't buy the "love" affair because the girl is a passive pinup he never thinks of again and they were horny kids at the time. We can't believe his loss of family affected him much, because we never see what was lost in a human light. Take out the "people who aren't white men spend all their time talking about white men" scene and replace it with things like Paul's father teaching him to steam birchbark so that the seams lie perfectly together, to aim heart and breath at the bird and bring it down by the world's consent to his arrow's asking; Paul's shock at seeing his mother cry over the news of a village and cousins taken off the map by smallpox, their bafflement as to where the disease came from since the soldiers in the fort don't die, and what is different about them, in a world before genetic population resistance is comprehended? Basic showing not telling stuff.

Had I enough world and time I would personally rewrite and redraw this mess. As it is...fans, it sells a character short on character shorter; don't read it. Non-fans, Deadlands can do better in the hands of Marshals who care; don't read it. White men, this is what's wrong with our storytelling when we use shortcut tropes and perpetuate unjust ideas through refusal to reckon with anything beyond the shallows; don't read it. Everyone else, this will make you sad with its thoughtlessness; don't read it. Author, artists...next time, do better, in research and in general, and budget for hiring a sensitivity reader or two if you're not hiring diverse staff. Eesh.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
DEADLANDS: Raven #1
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Visionary Comics Showcase
by David W P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/16/2018 14:25:14

Very good introduction to a numbe of diverse comics. looking forward to more of these anthologies.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Visionary Comics Showcase
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DEADLANDS: The Cackler #4
by Charles P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/12/2016 15:42:41

This was a great reveal! The rest of the series is also quite excellent. I highly recommend it!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DEADLANDS: The Cackler #4
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DEADLANDS: The Devil's Six Gun
by Alex W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/20/2015 13:54:34

Wherin an inventor who isn't actually Tesla doesn't make a death ray...but does make one hell of a gun.

I really liked this one, and if only some ambiguity could have been added to the ending I'd have liked it even more. As it stands, the antagonist's motives are muddy and the threat of madness induced through the arcane sciences or Ghost Rock Fever is sadly undercut. The conversation at the end still rocks, though.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DEADLANDS: The Devil's Six Gun
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DEADLANDS: Death Was Silent
by Alex W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/14/2015 15:00:33

If you like to watch a fella raise hell, Hoyt Cooper sure gets his body count.

That's about as far as this story goes; I'd recommend this to someone who hasn't heard of or isn't familiar with the Deadlands setting, to whom said not-exactly human bodies and the ease with which a Heroic-level character can level NPCs might be novel. Gettng into potential spoiler territory, perhaps the antagonists should have been introduced at a time when they were an active threat to more than a well-equipped bounty hunter, since mowing the slow, largely unarmed foes down in passive minding-our-own-buisness-pretending-to-be-human season makes the gunslinger look more like a bully than a hero.

Alas, the interesting conceit of a mute protagonist is turned into a gimmick as the hinderance is literally removed by magic, but the art deserves celebration - Hoyt couldn't be described as generic or even good-looking from a country mile. There's no trace of sameface or Hollywood-style prettification amongst the spear-carriers, either (even if everyone's Spagetti-Western white), which lends a neat bit of atmosphere and grit to the tale.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
DEADLANDS: Death Was Silent
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DEADLANDS: Black Water
by Alex W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/14/2015 03:13:27

A tale of supernaturally-induced madness without a twist.

Curiously, the bodyguard who acts as viewpoint/protagonist seems more driven than the deviously enchanted (infatuated?) fellow he's employed by. I was entertained by the secondary characters getting killed off in their various ways, and this is the only one of the three Deadlands comics I picked up where there was a /woman/ who a) wasn't a whore and b) didn't die horribly! hi-fives old fortune-teller crone You go, ma'am!

Get it for the Maze dragons and the guide's hilariously habituated attitude to having to step round nasties, sorcerers, sea serpents etc.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
DEADLANDS: Black Water
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DEADLANDS: The Cackler FREE PREVIEW
by Michael M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/14/2015 02:41:28

Pretty good artwork that keeps your interest just long enough to throw some story at you. For a preview sample it was good enough to make me curious about the titles preceding it. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the story-line once its available.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DEADLANDS: The Cackler FREE PREVIEW
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DEADLANDS: The Cackler FREE PREVIEW
by Paul P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/01/2015 08:32:53

This one has a cool setting, plenty of action, and intriguing characters. Bart Sears' art looks great. It seems like he's drawing in a more "Western" style here, reminiscent of old Jonah Hex comics.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Visionary Comics Free Pack
by Keith M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/19/2014 04:02:26

Phantom Jack - Art's good, story has some problems.

Tales of the Starlight Drive-In - The premise is interesting, the art is good, but the stories are forgettable.

The Frog Princess - Okay manga art, light-hearted story, the female lead is quirky (with her love of frogs), the male lead is kind of dull, an okay read if you just want to pass the time.

Headlocked - The art's okay, the story would probably seem better if I was a wrestling fan, as I'm not it just didn't grab me.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Visionary Comics Free Pack
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Digital Visions #1
by Colin T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/20/2012 18:33:16

I don't think the quality level here is that high, but it's also not quite aimed at my tastes so you could add a star to my rating to account for that.

"Aposperus" slowly introduces its main character but doesn't give much story. The art has some interesting effects and is probably the best part of the whole book (though it has a few unfortunate moments with an awkward fumetti look).

The wordless "In the Demon's Path" gives us a rescue/fight scene with a "twist" ending; it didn't engage me in any way.

I basically agree with Matt B. about "31 Flavors".

I skipped the wrestling story because I'd already downloaded a preview for that separately -- haven't read it yet.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Digital Visions #1
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The C-Listers #1
by John G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/01/2012 09:37:08

This is a fun book. You can tell from the cover, which evokes Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 in a way that tells you this book does not take itself too seriously.

The story is adult, but not graphic. There is some mild language and suggestive situations, but it is certainly accessible to everyone.

While we really love action in comic books, long time characters remain because we like to see how their personal lives are affected by their powers and responsibilities. This book focuses on that personal life impact with a scenario showing how jealousy, infidelity, and poor communication can lead to disaster.

The book is whimsical, and the artwork is quite good. Panels are peppered with references to fine art (such as Birth of Venus) and well known superheroes (anyone remember seeing Batman grieved and surrounded by Joker heads? I do.). The bar scenes are also fun to hunt for tributes to people and things we know from elsewhere.

This is a fun break in your regular reading, and I'll be watching for future issues of C-Listers.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The C-Listers #1
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DEADLANDS: The Devil's Six Gun
by Keith (. T. A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/26/2012 22:39:35

The Devil’s Six Gun tells the story of inventor Copernicus Blackburne. He's hired by reclusive inventor Samuel Tygean who wants a gun that will 'kill the devil, himself'. Tygean introduces the young inventor to Ghost Rock and soon the supernatural element has Blackburne's mind racing with ideas for new devices. Contained within its pages is probably the best display of the slow madness caused by Ghost Rock along with the horrible end suffered by most Mad Scientist.

Along the way Blackburne travels to Salt Lake City where we infer that Tygean wants a weapon to kill Darius Hellstromme, another major character in the Deadlands universe. To do that, he wants Blackburne to recreate his Protean Pistol using Ghost Rock derivatives. The problem is getting Blackburne to focus on weapons. Tygean discovers a method of getting Blackburne to focus but it involves robbing the scientiest of everything he loves.

The book suffers from too many words containing back story and setting information. There's a great deal of history without much in the way of dialog. I think the real issue is that the design team decided to tell the story rather than show it. The artwork is, at times, masterful producing full page illustrations of the Ghostrock-inspired discoveries of Copernicus Blackburne. That strength should have been used to more effectively show rather than tell.

If you want a glimpse at your Mad Scientist’s future, give The Devil’s Six Gun a read. The game artifact is the stats for the Gun itself. This special pistol does more and more damage with each new hit but drives the user slowly insane.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DEADLANDS: The Devil's Six Gun
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DEADLANDS: Black Water
by Keith (. T. A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/26/2012 22:37:51

Synopsis - A wealthy gentleman named Mr. Harmon Rappaport is haunted by dreams of a woman who saved his life during the Civil War. He and his bodyguard, Ian Fairfax, travel from New York to the the Great California Maze in search of Rapport's savior.

Along the way they hire Lyle Crumbfine to guide them through the dangers of the Maze. Harmon stares at the sky a great deal seeing the image his obsession so Lyle and Ian carry most of the story. Other characters in the story exists for the sole purpose of showing the dangers of the Great Maze. While they're all colorful in their own way, I would suggest red shirts for each since that's the role they play.

The ending is a bit abrupt. It could have done with a few more panels of fight scenes between the antagonist and our heroes. The story could also have done with fewer panels devoted to the horrors of the Maze then used the space depicting the final fight scene.

Deadlands fans will enjoy the depiction of the Great Maze. If your posse heads in that direction, this would be a good comic to pass around. The work includes full stats for Maze guide Lyle Crumbfine to add to your game as an NPC. I enjoyed the story, characters, and art but wished the story was stretched into a multi-comic series since it covers a lot of ground very quickly.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DEADLANDS: Black Water
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Deadlands: The Kid: Origins
by Keith (. T. A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/26/2012 22:36:36

The Kid is my second favorite comic in this series. The writing is clever with surprises that make you go ‘oh yeah’. I love it when a reveal that makes you go back and reread it from a new point of few. All the elements that make comics fun to read came together in The Kid.

The Kid revolves around Billy the Kid placed in the Deadlands setting. This highlights one of the things that attracts me to Deadlands, real historical figures reimagined in a new setting. In this case, Billy is a monster hunter with some special talents.

In the story, a pack of werewolves attack Billy's family as they travel West for a better life. An old Indian Shaman saves Billy and trains him in the art of defeating supernatural evil inside the Hunting Grounds. Billy returns on a mission to avenge his family. The Kid offers a great view of the Hunting Grounds and Indian shamanism woven into a clever tale.

Much like Death was Silent, this work strikes the right balance between telling the story with words and art. Clever writing and great art place this in the ‘must read’ category for Deadlands fans. I can’t wait for future tales with The Kid. I only hope he meets up with the Cooper Brothers someday.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deadlands: The Kid: Origins
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DEADLANDS: Death Was Silent
by Keith (. T. A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/26/2012 22:34:58

This was my favorite story of the series. This and ‘The Kid’ kept me guessing most of the way through. Since the primary character is mute, this story did much more with the look and feel of the Deadlands setting. I think one of the reasons I liked this story so much is because it utilized the art better than the other stories. While the other stories have great art, you noticed it more in this book.

The hero is a Texas Ranger named Hoyt Cooper who rides around claiming to be a bounty hunter. Credence is added to this claim due to the dead body draped over his horse. Savages cut Hoyt's tongue out so now he communicates with a magic black board hung around his neck. What he thinks, you see on the blackboard.

The intro of Hoyt riding into the town of Dandelion Flats in the rain is wonderful and sets the mood for the rest of the story. Evil infests the town and Hoyt is there to clean it out - one town, one Ranger. But Ranger Cooper has a little help.

One of the reasons I love this story is that it concentrates on the story and not the setting. I love Deadlands but I love well told stories more. It would make a fine Twilight Zone episode being short, to the point, and horrific all at the same time.

If you only read one book in this series, make it Death Was Silent.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DEADLANDS: Death Was Silent
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