Review - Kill Whitey Donovan #1 (@DarkHorseComics @12GaugeComics)

"Get up Anna, damn you, get up and go."

The American Civil War ended quite a while ago, but the underlying disagreements that led to it are still prevalent in society today. And the country as a whole has made progress in many regards, there's still a long way to go in others. Unfortunately, the slighted can't as easily plot revenge as they can in Kill Whitey Donovan #1 from 12-Gauge Comics in partnership with Dark Horse Comics.

The issue is written by Sydney Duncan, illustrated by Natalie Barahona and lettered by Troy Peteri.

After Anna Hoyt's sister commits suicide, she sets off for Atlanta to kill the man responsible for destroying her family--her fiance, Jim ''Whitey'' Donovan. But Anna, a spirited though pampered daughter of a prominent doctor, can't do it alone. To get through the hell that lies between her Alabama home and Atlanta, she makes a deal with one of the Donovan slaves, Hattie Virgil, who has an agenda of her own. In exchange for a chance at freedom, Hattie, a survivor, will lead this unlikely pair on a quest that will change them both forever.

Set against the backdrop of a country still ravaged by the Civil War and its effects, Duncan infuses the narrative with an abundance of acrimony that works in the book's favor. Duncan does an exceptional job capturing the prevailing sentiment at the time, working in how different slaves approached their lot in life differently and how their owners were most of the time ruthlessly efficient in keeping their established order as a means of building up the characters of Anna and Hattie. There's an undercurrent of simmering tension waiting to boil over throughout the issue that accurately reflects the era and allows Duncan to give the characters plenty of motivation. And while both Anna's and Hattie's motivations are different, there's enough commonality shared between them in their hatred for Whitey Donovan that their pairing works well. Duncan isn't shy about providing a seemingly frenetic pace throughout the issue that further adds to the stress levels for both the characters and the reader.

The artistic style of Barahona is one that plays off of the script nicely. In many instances, the way Barahona renders the clothes of the characters with an emphasis on folds, creases and shadows does a great job of conveying to the reader the relatively simple make-up of the garb at the time. What's really fascinating is the way Barahona depicts the slave owners as merely silhouettes; this gives the reader a sense that those characters are largely interchangeable and represent a broader, figurative threat to society (in addition to their real threat to society). This concept is further explored in a particularly intense page where Barahona uses quick looks via single panels at a slave owner releasing dogs after trespassers in a way that's subtly terrifying in its simplicity. Barahona's colors are very earthy, providing a very humble sentiment amongst the characters and their setting.

Kill Whitey Donovan #1 shares similarities with Kill Bill in some ways, but to say that the former is derivative of the latter is short-selling Anna and Hattie. The two leading ladies are determined to accomplish what they've set out to do (albeit for different reasons) and know it's going to be a tough road ahead. Duncan's script is fast-paced with engaging dialogue and the right amount of drama to keep things interesting. Barahona's artwork uses unique panel-by-panel comparison shots of past and present to differentiate bad and worse times. Kill Whitey Donovan #1 is a very strong first issue that has powerful characters in a setting that is all about defining who has more power.

Kill Whitey Donovan #1 is available now.