In the olden days of the gold rush Eli and Charlie Sisters are known (and feared) throughout the land. The two act as hired guns for the Commodore and have been tasked with going to San Francisco and “getting rid of” a prospector called Hermann Kermit Warm. Though this task may seem extreme it's old hat to the Sisters brothers, who are used to killing and stealing to suit their needs. As the reader follows the brothers on their mission they are exposed to the intricacies of their relationship and the volatile nature of the job they've spent their lives doing.
Before I say anything about the book itself I just want to give a shout out to this book's designer. I've been taking a book design class these last couple months and I've learned how much thought and work is put into the book's interior. As a result I found myself really appreciating the way this novel was designed. The type used was unique but not obnoxious, it really helped me feel like I was reading a book different than any I've read before. I also loved the part openers, which included beautiful double page spreads. The book even had two intermissions! I nice touch and fitting with the time period and genre.
But onto the book itself. I found there wasn't a lot of time devoted to the setting itself. You were given enough to know it was the West and what time period it was, but not much else. What really stood out was the way that DeWitt crafted the two brothers. Eli and Charlie Sisters couldn't be more different. Charlie was a rough character. Jaded and unforgiving, he was not someone you wanted to cross. Eli, though still tough, was a more sensitive and human character, making him the ideal choice for the narrator of the story. I found myself able to picture these two brothers right down to the little details, like their hats and their shoes. Differences aside, the two men were still brothers and like many most brothers they have an up and down relationship. It is amazing all the craziness these two go through together and the fights that they have. But through it all they always have each other's back. And really what else could you want from a brother?
The Sisters Brothers is one of the first Westerns I've ever read and it wasn't exactly what I expected. I expected more gun fights, more horse races and chases. More action. That's not to say there wasn't action but it wasn't the focal point of the story. It was barely even there at the climax. Instead what I found was a look at the complicated relationship between two brothers, in a unique and interesting setting. Not what I expected but still a great read. (less)
This is my first First Second graphic novel! I love finding new, smaller graphic novel publishers...moreThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
This is my first First Second graphic novel! I love finding new, smaller graphic novel publishers. It adds some great diversity to the field and their amazing collection has me adding a pile of great sounding books to my TBR. Seriously, if you haven’t heard of them yet, then check them out, they have great stuff for all ages and interests.
So now that I’ve said my piece about the publisher, let’s move onto the book itself, Bloody Chester. I saw this title on NetGalley as was immediately attracted to it’s eye catching cover. A quick scan of the synopsis let me know I was headed into Western territory – a genre that’s not unfamiliar to me, but it’s not a regular undertaking for me. But once I started reading, I found Bloody Chester surprisingly easy to get into, even for one not the most comfortable with the genre. Though it is no doubt a Western, Bloody Chester does not go over the top shoving in tropes or archetypes It just focuses on some solid characters and a simple story. Something all great stories are made of. I was also immediately put at ease by the artwork. Simple but distinctive. It kind of made me think this is what Jeff Lemire’s comics would look like if he wrote Westerns.
Once you look past the setting, you’re really dealing with the adventure of one boy – Chester Kates. Our “hero.” He’s a scrappy, skinny kid, who gets in a lot of fights but at the end of the day is determined to survive. He takes on the unpleasant job of burning town a ghost town called Whale because people believe it’s haunted/cursed. Chester is an interesting character. He’s not a bad kid by any means, but he at times has some questionable ethics. I wanted to like him, and for the most part I did. And I liked seeing him struggle between the choice of finishing the job or just making a run for it. Especially when faced with the threat of a disease called Coyote Waits.
Though there are many things I love about Bloody Chester, I ultimately felt like there were some things missing from this story. It kind of just…ends. You feel as though you’ve been left hanging. I also thought more could have been done at the beginning to set the stage. For example, I thought the reader might have better served with some more information about Chester. It was almost as if we were thrown into the story when it was already 15% in. Simplicity is often a good thing, but too much simplicity left this reader wanting more.
Recommendation: A fun, quick graphic read. Good for those who want to step outside their comfort zone a little without going too crazy, or committing too much time. (less)
I’ve been hearing more and more about East of West as the months go on so when the first trade paperback was available I figured it was about time for me to check it out.
East of West in a nutshell is the story of the four horseman of the apocalypse. Well actually it’s about three of the Horsemen (War, Famine and Conquest) trying to track down the fourth (Death). But it’s also about this group called “the Chosen.” The world leaders of the future, who are purposely working together to bring about the end of the world. And it’s about Death’s missions to retrieve what was taken from him and be reunited with his wife.
Ok so there’s no “in a nutshell” for this series.
As you’ve probably determined, there’s a lot going on. But the action is very slow going, there’s a lot of set up, a lot of characters to be introduced and a lot of relationships and back handed deals to be explored. At first I wished it would just tell me what everyone was after but as I kept reading I began to appreciate the deliberate style, as it meant there was a surprise around every corner.
Death is the character that most of this book centres around. He takes the form of a wild west cowboy in a futuristic world and he is pissed! There is a lot of violence committed because of him or at his hands. I guess this shouldn’t be surprising -he is death after all. (But seriously - violence!!)
He’s also a very real and interesting character - which was a nice surprise. He has very clear goals and motivations and the love he feels for his wife is downright moving. I appreciated that Hickman didn’t make this character clichéd or boring. You can tell from these first five issues, he not going to be what you expected.
There is some really fascinating world building in this book - a futuristic world blended with the Wild wild west. And it’s complexities are communicated through some very crisp, very detailed artwork. Dragotta is very talented and though I loved all his work throughout this book, I was particularly a sucker for the full page spreads that would appear throughout. Such as this one:
It is both complex and straight forward all at the same time. These first four issues are excellent set up and they have me curious about what’s to come. This is a dark and gritty book and if that’s your style you’re going to love it. However the slow pacing makes me feel like buying the monthly issues could get tedious and frustrating while you wait for something big to happen. This one might be better in trade paperback form. (less)
Firefly fans – this one is for you. It’s that fantastic mix of science fiction and Western with a...moreThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
Firefly fans – this one is for you. It’s that fantastic mix of science fiction and Western with a little time travel thrown in for good measure (so Doctor Who fans may want to check this out as well). The story focuses on a rag tag team of individuals who have all time travelled to the mysterious Wasteland from different periods of history – it’s a unique concept and one that grabs you right away, as you wonder where exactly they are and what brought them there. All the characters are interesting, but with so many players on the board it was hard to get to know any of them that well. That being said, I have to admit my favourite was Edgar, a prohibition era bootlegger. He was charming, sweet and brave. What more could you ask for?
Matt Burns did a good job narrating this story – particularly when he took on Jack’s Western drawl. At times I found it a bit too slow but once I sped it up to 1.25x speed my listening experience improved greatly.(less)