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Cowboys & Aliens – So Crazy, It Just Might Work

Do you have your Fred Van Lente lights hanging from your window? Are your Fred Van Lente Day stocking hung by the chimney with care? Excellent. Let’s begin.

Cowboy & Aliens is a graphic novel out today from Image Comics. The book is written by Andrew Foley and Fred Van Lente with artwork by Luciano Lima.

They have been serializing the book on the web since September, and that’s all I’ve read (the first 49 pages, to be precise), but what I’ve read so far has been an engaging action story.

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The basic concept of the book is simple, which is, “What if some aliens crashlanded on Earth towards the end of the 19th Century? Would they be able to conquer Earth?” The prologue to the comic, written by Andrew Foley and drawn by Dennis Calero, draws a similarity between aliens conquering our planet and the “white man” conquering the “New World.” It’s an interesting comparison that works quite well, really.

In the comic itself, Lima’s art is nice and clean, and tells the story well. He could probably stand to work a bit on his characters, as they seem occasionally fairly stiff, but he depicts the action and the adventure quite well. I was very impressed with the professional level of his work, as I had never heard the name before.

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As for the story – Foley and Van Lente had their work cut out for them, as this is one of those “Corporate Comic Books,” where Platinum Studios President Scott Rosenberg came up with the “high concept” behind this comic literally years ago, and had been selling it as a movie idea for years. So Foley and Van Lente have a lot of disparate people behind the scenes to please, and the end result is a fairly “by the books” comic book, although a fun one.

Zeke and Verity are a man and woman cowboy team who are escorting a group of settlers to a town in Arizona. They are beseiged, though, by Apache, who were sold the same land. Here is a slight problem within the comic – the treatment of the Apache. I get that this is a book about fighting aliens, so “realism” is not key, but there really doesn’t seem to be any attempt at getting details right with the Apache, historical or just cultural details. It looks like Lima was told, “Just draw whatever tribe you want.” That was sorta annoying.

In any event, the “cowboys” and the “Indians” end up having to join forces against the aliens, and as I left off, they were just enjoying their first success.

The characters are fairly “cookie cutter,” which I guess helps for film, but while familiar, they were still interesting, and the concept is intriguing enough to see the comic being worth a chance.

So far, without reading the full book, I think I would recommend this comic.

Come they told me
pa rum pum pum pum
Fred Van Lente to see,
pa rum pum pum pum
Our finest gifts we bring
pa rum pum pum pum
To lay before Fred Van Lente
pa rum pum pum pum
rum pum pum pum
rum pum pum pum
So to honor Him
pa rum pum pum pum,
when we come.

7 Comments

I’m getting a bit worried about you …

I have been reading this strip pretty regularly and the art is really amazing. The characters are pretty okay (though it’s obviously a “concept” piece). My objection is the startling inaccuracy of the Indians. Apaches are depicted in Lakota headgear, etc. I mean, you’re talking about aliens and all, but still it wouldn’t be that hard to not perpetuate 1940′s stereotypes.
But all in all, it’s a fine webcomic and easily one of the best-executed on the scene.

Yeah, Josh, like I mentioned, it really seems like the artist was just told, “Just draw any tribe – use whatever references you can find.”

I bought this in celebration of Fred Van Lente day and in celebration of it only being five bucks.

Was pretty good. Got better after page 47, and the ending was good.

Could’ve been longer, though. Another 15-or-so page of character development woulda helped the story lots.

I got it and I like it. Would have preferred the same art in the prologue be all the way through.

True, it certainly would have been nice to see Calero draw the whole thing, but I think part of the deal to GET Calero was that he wouldn’t be able to draw that much.

Sorta like Brando only doing the beginning of Superman. :)

it turning into a movie

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