Monday, November 2, 2015

Review - Reddin

"What you say ta that pardner?"

Life in the old west was nothing short of impossible for most people. If you weren't robbed and killed, you were probably going to live a short life punctuated by death from an illness. Some were a lot tougher though and made a name for themselves moving through the world with a keen eye on survival. Two such individuals are Kirkwood and Driver in Reddin, published by Dead Canary Comics. The issue is written by Matt Fitch and C.S. Baker, illustrated by Conor Boyle and lettered by Paul Clark-Forse. "The Adventures of Kirkwood and Driver" is written by Clark-Forse and illustrated by Scott Cooper.

In a forgotten corner of the Old West, shadows lurk. Dean Driver and Karl Kirkwood are two friends on the long and dusty pioneer road, hunting bounty, doing good. But what starts as just another adventure becomes a supernatural nightmare when a Faustian deal is struck and a horrible, revenge-fueled spiral into madness unfolds. Scores will be settled, blood will be spilled. The evil of REDDIN is nothing when measured by the evil in all men’s hearts.

Tales from the old west generally tick off a lot of boxes and in Reddin Fitch and Baker rely on the concept of vengeance as one of those boxes to carry their story. Kirkwood and Driver are best friends faced with an impossible decision that drives them apart, but not in the way you would think. Fitch and Baker do an excellent job characterizing the men as sporting an almost unbreakable bond which also explains their reputation throughout the west. There's an element of the supernatural pervasive throughout the work as well that adds a pretty interesting twist to that concept of revenge. The story is paced pretty cleanly, as the story starts with the two as friends and moves with them as they seek to rediscover their bond.

The artwork in Reddin is gritty and matches the tone of the story. Clark-Forse illustrates the characters with an attention to detail that makes them believable as frontiersmen, replete with ten-gallon hats and spurs. Kirkwood and Driver are characterized by grizzled facades that reflect a life lived full of danger and daring. Clark-Forse does an especially good job with facial expressions, underscoring the mature concepts the characters are forced to contend with. The legendary entity working in the background is depicted as a vaguely defined nightmarish creature that helps sell the concept of the lead characters being haunted by its presence.

Reddin takes a familiar wild west setting and mixes in some supernatural elements, intertwining the two in a way that makes the daily dangers of the time even more dangerous. Kirkwood and Driver are well-respected and well-worn travelers who maintain a mutual respect and bond through thick and thin, regardless of the external stressors applied. Fitch and Baker characterize that bond quite convincingly and definitely puts it to the test, mixing in a sense of mythology to an otherwise standard western setting. Clark-Forse illustrates the characters with an attention to the trials and tribulations of the time, as all the characters sport a weariness to them indicative of the west. Reddin is a pretty solid western that works in the supernatural to keep things interesting.

Reddin will be available soon with a Kickstarter running now.


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