[Comic Review] All-Star Western Volume #1: Guns and Gotham

All-Star Western Volume #1: Guns and GothamSo, this was a DC Comics series I heavily debated upon. I dig the western theme in just about anything. I would wander the aisles of my local shops, pick up All Star Western #1, walk around a little bit, flip through it, then put it back down. It’s true you can never judge a book by its cover, but still…once I saw the Jonah Hex played a larger role in this series, I was a little put off.

All-Star Western #1I never really followed the character. I’ve heard about him, yes. I’ve even seen the horrid film adaptation. And, maybe that image is what lurks in the back of my mind. Which, in truth, was rather unfortunate.

But, as always, my over-thinking process got the better of me. I picked up issue #1 and loved it. So I nabbed issues #2 and #3, and still dug where they were going. It was at this time I read that the first TB volume was going to come out. Keep in mind, I was a little slow hopping onto this bus, so this was September-ish or late August are most when I got into this series. I’m the kind of guy that I’d sooner read what I can in trade if available, as it contains a full story arc and I don’t have to sit rocking back and forth in my chair waiting until the next issues arrives.

All-Star Western #2The artwork here is…well…it was a little off putting at first. It’s rough. Real rough. And sometimes that eye for detail isn’t there. That may have also been another reason I kept putting these floppies down (but were overshadowed by my initial dislike of the Hex character). Yet, there’s something here that fits. Whether the fact that it’s the time period the titles take place in, I don’t know. But, it works in this case and lends itself to the overall feel of the series. It just seems right. And, honestly, once I got into reading it my eyes never once squinted in disdain.

All-Star Western #3I’d also like to point out, out of all the “New 52” titles out there, the first three issues of this series I read multiple times. Not only that, but I enjoyed them each and every time. And, upon picking up All Star Western Volume 1: Guns and Gotham, rereading them another time wasn’t a challenge at all. I love this series and recommend it for at least giving it a chance! And, with a $16.99 price tag, it’s even easier to get a taste for it. I haven’t read anything beyond this yet (call me a completionist, but if I like something, I don’t want to jump around, so I waited to finish the first story arc before picking up any other issues).

All-Star Western #4There is two stories taking place in this trade (four-ish if you include El Diablo and the Barbary Ghost shorts). The first is almost Hell-ish in nature. It has a definite Jack the Ripper feel to it. Prostitutes have shown up dead throughout Gotham, with the word “fear” written near their corpses in various languages. This short three-issue story arc brings a lot of history from the modern age Gotham, and there are several names that pop up that any reader of the DC world would recognize.

The story is told from the viewpoint of one Doctor Amadeus Arkham (yep!). I think this aspect is what determined my purchase. I huge fan of Hex? Not so much, but, being able to read through the story from a different perspective and mindset from that particular character, and in the voice of Arkham, made it rather enjoyable.

All-Star Western #5The second story has us delving deep into the sewers beneath Gotham as the duo quest to find a missing child. This leads them on one goose chase that they’ll never forget. Child slave labor, a long lost Indian tribe and giant flying bats…it’s all here. And, it even hints at things to come (as they find themselves paying a visit to the home of Alan Wayne (get the giant bat reference yet?).

Finally, there’s a taste of an entirely different batch of characters in the form of El Diablo and the Barbary Ghost. These were shorter stories at the end of each issue that, in the trade, add up to an entire chapter in and of itself. Although done by a different artist, they do add a little something to the books. As a whole, I have to say it loses some of their appeal, but, in the back of floppies, they remind me of those dime novels popular during that period and time.

All-Star Western #6All and in, this has to be one of the better trades I’ve invested in, and it’s worthwhile for anyone something with a different aspect than what they’re used to. A different time period and plenty of history is involved in the first six issues.

Rating: 10/10 Gingered Digits.

Reasoning: Great stories, great character development, good plots, good artwork, great “feel” to the panels.

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