Review – Pale Horse #2-3

Sometimes comics take a fascinating turn that is completely unexpected from the first issue. Pale Horse, to me at least, fits that bill perfectly. Sometimes that turn can really take the story in a direction that hurts the title. Pale Horse does NOT do that. I was kind of wondering how the story could progress after the first issue. Other than learning that Cole was a cold killer that will do anything to protect his son, we weren’t really sure why he was being hunted. Even Cole knew that his measly bounty shouldn’t have been enough to draw those fancy gentlemen from out east all the way out to hunt him. We were left after the first issue with no indication of what might have caused that.

BOOM! Studios, with Andrew Cosby and Michael Alan Nelson creating and writing and Christian Dibari drawing, settle that up in these two issues. We learn that this is all actually tied into the Civil War. Cole has a unique connection to the Union, which looking back would make sense after he did say he didn’t want any Confederate notes in payment for his bounties. A much larger conspiracy is revealed in these issues that has actually drawn me into this series.

I always have enjoyed when comics use real historical events and take some poetic license to create a story with characters that helped to play a part in the outcome behind the scenes. The only downfall is, unless this goes the alternate reality route, we already kind of know who will end up victorious. As it has been said, the devil is in the details, and the details here are looking to really take Pale Horse to the next level.

Continue on for a slightly more revealing look at these two issues and to have a look at some interiors after the break.

So, who is the almighty Cole? We find out at the opening of issue #2. At a meeting of Confederate conspirators we find out that Cole infiltrated the south as a slave while acting as a Union spy. Suddenly his skills at killing and also surviving situations where he is totally outnumbered and outgunned aren’t so hard to believe. Cole does a little investigating of his own at the local brothel to discover that the man who sent the would-be assassins in issue #1 was called Shepherd. The look on Cole’s face tells me he knows this man.

Shepherd is disappointed in his men and chooses an unnamed assassin to go after Cole. In the meantime Cole has had to flee into Sioux country to escape a posse. You’ll have to pick up the issue to find out what he did, but to suffice it to say people died. When the assassin finally catches up to the man it's clear these two have a history. A brief encounter leaves Cole wounded and he and his son retreat into a cave.

From there several encounters with the local Sioux tribe happen and we learn a little more about the man. His son’s half Sioux blood plays prominently in the events that unfold. Cole recovers, and now he has a man that he must hunt down. The journey takes him back towards a Civil War battleground where Cole must confront the man known as Shepherd. There are a few twists and turns, and the artwork does an excellent job displaying the horrors of warfare in the mangled bodies of soldiers on the battlefield.

The ending of issue #3 leaves us with a giant cliffhanger and also a pretty big plot twist. I personally love where the story is going. The writing is excellent and there is something about the artwork that is unique and has little touches that lend authenticity to the time period. From the clothing and the facial hair to the gritty look that I would assume – I wasn’t there after all – would accompany a hardened battle veteran or western settler. That isn’t an easy life after all. The fights aren’t drawn out into some ridiculous gunfight where everyone misses 20 shots and fires a hail of bullets. Everything just seems paced and drawn really well. The historical twist the story has taken also makes it interesting for anyone who likes fictional characters that could have altered history as we know it if not for fictional heroes. That rather convoluted sentence will make more sense when you pick up Pale Horse in stores, something I would recommend that you do.