Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Review - Kingsway West #1 (@DarkHorseComics)

"The age of Red Gold turned men into soldiers...and soldiers into monsters."

The gold rushes of the 1800s turned the country on its head as many people sought out the possibility of quick fortunes. With those possibilities also came the probability that things wouldn't always turn out for the better for some prospectors. One such man caught in the middle of the rush is Kingsway West in Kingsway West #1 from Dark Horse Comics. The issue is written by Greg Pak, illustrated by Mirko Colak, colored by Wil Quintana and lettered by Simon Bowland.

After thirteen years in prison, a Chinese gunslinger named Kingsway Law just wants to find his wife. But in a fantastical American Old West crackling with magic, monsters, and racist vigilantes, trouble just won't leave him be. And in this case, trouble is a woman with a magic sword who needs his help.

The first few pages of Kingsway West #1 do a lot of time-traveling as Pak gets the reader up to speed on the history of the world within the pages. Pak does a pretty solid job of cramming a lot of backstory and character building into the early parts of the book, characterizing Kingsway West as a more than capable gunslinger holding his own. Pak also allows his interactions with the environment to be relatively peaceful and survival focused, whereas his interactions with others is a little more violent. The setting of the story feels greatly oversimplified though because of the hurried universe building. Still, there's enough intimated by Pak that the reader has a pretty good idea of what's going on by the end of the issue.

Colak frames the panels in a way that allows the characters to stand at the forefront of the action. Because of this approach, Colak can emphasize the actions taken by the characters moreso than the settings themselves--most of which are rendered somewhat vaguely. Each character sports very similar facial expressions and details that makes it a little difficult to distinguish one from another. Colak relies on a lot of cross-hatching to fill out some of the detail in the faces and clothing of the characters. The colors used by Quintana feel pretty vibrant and don't really give the book the feel of a story taking place in the western US at the turn of the 19th century.

Kingsway West #1 is a little uneven at times as it's trying to give the reader a ton of information to soak in. Kingsway West the character is a pretty rugged gunslinger who's on a personal quest to protect his wife, but he gets wrapped up in something bigger than himself. Pak has shown an ability to craft tales that are solid and it's expected that things will even out as the series progresses. Colak's illustrations are good and present the alternate reality of the United States well. Kingsway West #1 delves back into America's troubled past when it comes to immigration and does so with a pinch of altered history.

Kingsway West #1 is in stores August 24.


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