Saturday, March 11, 2017

Death Be Damned #1 Review

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"Death Be Damned" #1 from BOOM! Studios -

     They thought that they had killed her. They thought that they had killed them all. They were wrong. DEAD wrong. A family of homesteaders looking for a better life settles in the open plains of Wyoming in the late 1800s. It is a lawless place where the only protection one can hope for comes from the barrel of a rifle. The homesteaders learn this the hard way when a band of marauders enters their property take all they have and kill them all...Almost. The wife barely survives. She cries her tears, buries her family and sets her face like stone, riding out to find the men who killed her life, and murder them, each and every one. As if the Hand of Destiny is against her, she finds herself shot to death soon after, falling, falling into a dark Other Place - then she awakens! A Native American mystic has brought her back to life...For his own purposes. Will she take revenge on the men who murdered her family, or will she be held to the will of the weird mystic who needs her so desperately to complete a task that heals his soul? 

   Ben Acker, Ben Blacker and Andrew Miller spin us a paranormal Wild West revenge tale in "Death Be Damned" #1 from BOOM! Studios. It starts out rather slowly, and a little hokey with the dialogue, but it progressively gets more interesting - especially after the introduction of the supernatural elements. The protagonist, who is never named, is pretty straightforward; she is a woman that will do nearly anything to exact revenge on the men who slaughtered her husband and daughter. Typically, this trope is occupied by a male protagonist. The difference is highlighted very soon, as it is not very long until she is propositioned by a self-interested male whom she thinks has information on the men she seeks. Furthermore, she is handily killed by the first of the bad guys she finds; this seems to highlight the frailty of her sex even more. We have seen this story before with men as the protagonist, and, usually, they (A) recover and exact revenge on an unsuspecting group of baddies (B) are nursed back to help and learn skills from someone that helps them on their mission or (C) they die during the initial assault and are supernaturally healed or resurrected with something unearthly with them, or inside them, that helps them achieve their vengeance. Our woman with no name suffers defeat twice, and is powerless to do anything but die, or nearly die, both times. So we have an interesting twist on the "Man With No Name" trope - even if it does seem to be a bit condescending to women. I do find some of the religious philosophy and mysticism in the book to be enchanting. The Native American that brought the woman back is an undertaker. Ordinarily, this person lays people to rest, but this character is doing this best to find a way to bring them back using a hodge-podge of religions and religious rituals, and a new mystical language of his own devising. It's a rather romantic social commentary on how maybe the pieces of the keys to eternal life can be found in all religions, as long as humans are willing to be open enough to the thought, analyzation, and faith that will be necessary to put those keys together. I don't know if I believe that, but it is a comforting thought. Hannah Christenson's artwork is no frills, and sketchy, but it has something that adds a sad beauty to the story. I'd like to see where "Death Be Damned" is going. I love stories that get REALLY existential - and I'm a sucker for a weird western. 

RATING: 8 out of 10.

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