Reviewer: Chris Delloiacono
Story Title: N/A
Colored and Lettered by: Peter Doherty
Everything else by: Geofrey Darrow
Editor: Spencer Lamm
Shadowy figures behind the scenes: Andy and Larry Wachowski
Publisher: Burlyman Entertainment
First, let me say that, Doc Frankenstein, the first single-issue offering by The Wachowski Brothers’ fledgling comic company, Burlyman Entertainment, was outstanding. The artwork, by Steve Skroce, was some of the best I’ve seen recently, and the first issue served as a nice introduction to the series and what to expect in the future. All told, Doc Frankenstein #1 was exactly what a premiere issue should be. If you want more information check out my review.
Second, I need to tell you that I’m not a huge fan of the martial arts genre. The Matrix films are absolute favorites, Kill Bill rocked, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was quite entertaining, I’ve enjoyed my share of Bruce Lee films, and Master of Kung Fu is one of my favorite comics, but beyond that I haven’t delved too deeply. Especially when it comes to the seminal works of the genre, whether they are film, television, comic, or some other medium, I’m a novice.
With those bits out of the way”¦
Based on the gorgeous preview artwork, an interview with Geof Darrow on Newsarma, and the outstanding quality of Doc Frankenstein #1, I decided to give Burlyman Entertainment’s Shaolin Cowboy #1 a chance.
This comic was not my cup of tea. Characterization of the main character, presumably the “Shaolin Cowboy” was non-existent. The book was nothing more than the lead-up and carrying out of a massive fight scene. Simply, there was no meat to this comic. Yet, somehow, I find that I was entertained and got my money’s worth.
The setup is simple: the Shaolin Cowboy is riding in the desert on his talking donkey, he meets up with Thomas Filet, a.k.a. The Frenchman, and his gang of probably 100. Let me stop and mention that Geof Darrow draws this gang in every detail. Then the Cowboy kills just about everyone, Shaolin style! There’re some hot moves, dynamic action brought to the printed page, and little else. This comic is really like the pre-credits sequence in a James Bond filmÃ¢â‚¬â€high on action, but minimal plot.
While Shaolin Cowboy is rather light on plot, and dialogue/narration, what it has in abundance is gorgeous artworkÃ¢â‚¬â€thirty-one pages to be exact. The fight scene that encompasses the final twelve pages is amazing to behold. Geof Darrow has a remarkable ability to bring the effect of actual movement to that which is unmoving.
Prior to the fight there is a series of ten-pages that could be connected together to show the vast array of enemies aligned against the Shaolin Monk. While the ten-pages seemed like overkill, I guess it does build up the idea of how unstoppable this small, chubby, old man is. Still, economically speaking, similar effect would have been reached with a two-page spread. The use of ten-pages in this fashion reminds me of a film with a bloated budget and shots that add nothing to the film. Since it was deemed necessary, I would have liked to see the pages as a fold-out spread. That would have increased the power of the shot ten-fold.
Shaolin Cowboy is unlike anything else I’m reading right now. There are some intriguing elements at play here. Geof Darrow clearly has passion for the character and the genre. Plus, Darrow is not in a rush to tell his story. I respect a creator with a vision and the will to carry it out. While the first issue of Shaolin Cowboy is rather light on anything beyond fisticuffs the fact that the story runs thirty-one pages is a plus, and makes me feels as if I got more for my entertainment dollar. The art is brilliant, but the story will need to take a step up in future issues to keep me interested. I’m willing to read a popcorn story on occasion, but to be a regular purchase there will have to be more depth.