Thursday, January 6, 2011

Review - Earp: Saints For Sinners #1

There's a certain appeal in taking something historic and throwing a modern day twist on it. It's especially true I feel with western themed works. Cowboy Bebop was (still is actually) a simply phenomenal space take on the spaghetti western, as was Star Wars and Cowboys and Aliens. Radical Comics foray into modernizing an historic western figure is with Wyatt Earp in Earp: Saints For Sinners #1, created by Matt Cirulnick and David Manpearl. The rest of the talent boasts writers M. Zachary Sherman and Cirulnick, art by Mack Chater and Martin Montiel and colors by Kyushik Shin.

The first panel of the book is a simple homage to Earp's reputation as a well-known lawman. Earp has long since retired his badge and is simply trying to make a go of it as a hotel proprietor at the A-OK Hotel in Las Vegas. With the institution of the Provocation Challenge Act dueling is once more legal, leading to a dip in crime and criminals such as Jesse James and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid filling the void as "celebrity bank robbers." Earp realizes that the cycle of justice and breaking the law will continue and is joined by Doc Holliday and Morgan Earp at the A-OK, as the three have put their criminal fighting ways behind them.

This, of course, does not sit over well with Mayor Flynn and Allan Pinkerton of the Pinkerton Securit Agency, leading to an instant conflict between the PSA and Earp's presence in Las Vegas. The entire first issue really serves as a quick primer on Wyatt Earp and his crew and sets up the remaining four issues to feature Allan Pinkerton going against Wyatt Earp. It's a somewhat classic mobster-ish tale that has some roots in actual western lore and could actually be a pretty interesting modernization.

What's great about the series is that it's almost as if Manpearl, Sherman and Cirulnick just took everything about Earp and dropped it in the future (2030 to be specific). Much like the west at the time of Earp, there is one central town where all the money flows, only this time it's Vegas. Using the inherent sin and vice in the city as a backdrop for Earp shining enforcement of justice is pretty appropriate. It's a pretty relevant location that really helps to cement each member of the posse in their roles. Wyatt is somewhat jaded about fighting crime, Doc Holliday just wants to carouse and Morgan is very idealistic.

The writing is simple to follow and, even though it clocks in at about 60 pages, didn't seem excessive. There's lots of backstory here to get you up to speed on this new world Wyatt Earp inhabits, but it's a reasonable blend of expository and action. Allan Pinkerton is shaping up to be a pretty decent villain, although his motives for acting as the police in Vegas are currently a little unclear. It's most likely he just wants the ego boost of being the one that bests Earp, but we've got four more issues to find out.

The biggest thing that stood out to me here was the art. Chater and Montiel have done a marvelous job creating a world that boasts both futuristic sleekness as well as western grittiness. The colors by Kyushik Shin only enhance the illustrations and there are times when the art seems to be almost photorealistic. It really works and, despite there being some gun-heavy scenes, the violence depicted is fitting for the sequence.

Earp: Saints For Sinners #1 will most likely appeal to fans of Wyatt Earp or those that like anachronisms. Essentially, the book takes the mythos of Wyatt Earp and just updates it for the future, meaning there's not going to be any crazy zombies or ghosts or anything thrown in. This isn't necessarily bad per se, but if the series sticks too closely to the history of Earp well, we all know how that ends. Still though, it's a respectable take on the classic tale and is really driven by superb artwork that matches it perfectly. It's definitely worth a look and should be in stores this week.

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