Review - Shaolin Cowboy #1


Shaolin monks were (and are) renowned for their combat prowess, relying on a steady, meditative inner thought to drive sheer physical talents. What they could always use more of though are chainsaws. More specifically, poles with chainsaws attached to either end. Dark Horse brings that and more with Shaolin Cowboy #1.

The issue is written and illustrated by Geof Darrow with colors by Dave Stewart.

A man in the desert with a lot of blood. At first glance, you would think it was Walter White, but Walt didn't brandish a staff with chainsaws at each end. Shaolin Cowboy is that man, covered in blood and feverishly fighting his way toward Palinsbush. Yeah, it's all exactly as odd and crazy as it sounds, leaving a ton of zombies behind in his gory and vicious wake, all under the watchful eye of the ever-present NSA.

Admittedly, not a lot happens in the first issue. Still though, Darrow manages to make the book work within the context of the character himself. Shaolin Cowboy is something of a simple monk with simple plans, guided by his beliefs and not wasting words. Plotwise, readers will likely be left wanting, as nothing really happens in that regard. What Darrow does infuse the issue with is a lot of character development, despite there being only a few dialogue bubbles throughout. Shaolin Cowboy is a very mysterious man and that mystique carries through in the middle of his quiet rampage through zombie hordes.

Darrow's art has that disjointed quality that fits the writing, but makes it a little difficult to stay with. It's definitely not bad, although it does feel very loose. The typical rigidity that comes along with more polished lines and illustrations isn't there; instead, the reader sees more ambiguous illustrations that accurately reflect the zombie hordes. His art offers a more frenetic pace in terms of conveying the action, a contrast to the relative slow-moving feel of the story itself.

Shaolin Cowboy #1 is a very gritty and violent book wrapped in a rather serene outer package. The main character carries the story through actions alone, proving his combat prowess while also making enemies (both new and old). The appearance of the zombies isn't quite clear and Shaolin Cowboy's destination is a mystery as well. Writing and art complement one another well and make the issue one of the most solid yet quietly humble books you'll ever read. Check it out if you're into books where hordes of zombies are effortlessly wasted with fancy (and seemingly impractical) weaponry and tactics.

Shaolin Cowboy #1 is in stores October 9 with interiors below.