Tall Tales from the Badlands #3
“The Judgment of the People,” Written by Mark Wheaton; Art by Jerry Decaire
“Apologies,” Written by Sean Fahey; Art by John Fortune
“Rustlers,” Written by Robert Napton; Art by Franco Cespedes
“All Mine,” Written by Matt Dembicki; Art by Ezequiel Rosingana
“Where the Heart Is,” Written by Sean Fahey; Art by Ruben Rojas
Published by Black Jack Press
Weird West-style anthology is a perfect blend of Western, Sci-fi, and Horror
What ingredients make up this self-proclaimed “Weird West” anthology from Black Jack Press? It is made up of a hefty dose of Louis L’Amour mixed with an equally strong dose of Stephen King with a very light dash of The Twilight Zone. The writers who provide the scripts for this masterpiece collection were certainly inspired by this strange and unlikely mix of influences. However, each story in the anthology which mixes western and horror or western and science-fiction works very well in making the two different genres gel into a cohesive whole. Each story is completely different from the others and all of them are united only in that they are set in the Old West and have a horror or sci-fi element involved. Each writer took this theme in a completely different direction.
“The Judgement of the People” involves a sadistic judge who deals out a harsh kind of justice that ends up biting him – in a supernatural way – in the end. “Apologies” is a twisted tale about what the harsh wilderness of the Old West could force people to become when pushed past the point of desperation. “Rustlers” is a story that makes a clever play on words into a top notch western-horror tale. “All Mine” packs all the punch of a stick of TNT into a ghost story about friendship and sacrifice. “Where the Heart Is” is a subtle, but well-executed, nod towards science-fiction that would be quite natural as an episode of the Twilight Zone. Each story is exquisitely written and plotted and lives up to being both western-themed and horror or sci-fi oriented.
As far as artwork is concerned, it is easy to tell that the artists are just as
serious about the Weird West as the writers are. Each artist captures just the right kind of style to represent their writer’s script. Some of the artists, specifically Jerry Decaire and Franco Cespedes in “The Judgment of the People” and “Rustlers” respectively, used a style reminiscent of the camera work done in Western classics like High Noon and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly which only serves to reinforce the Western theme. Every panel is served up with high drama and plenty of action, the kind befitting the Old West.
There is a lot to love about this anthology whether you love the Old West or not. Every story has a surprise or two waiting for unsuspecting readers. The artwork is superb. There’s action, there’s horror, there’s gun-slinging, train-robbing, ghosts, zombies, cannibals, and more weirdness than you can shake a Colt .45 at. This is a must-read for all comic enthusiasts, period. Buy this one. You won’t regret it.