Deadlands: The Devil’s Six Gun Written by David Gallaher, Art & Cover by Steve Ellis and Published by Image Comics. Retail price $2.99
Review by Shaun Daniels and Edited by Sharon Wong
There is no more arguing about who is going to be The Marshal or forgetting to bring your dice because Image Comics is taking care of the Action Decks and Fate Chips with their adaptation of the award-winning role playing game Deadlands. The creative team of David Gallaher and Steve Ellis are no strangers to strange western tales having co-created Highmoon for Zuda Comics. This alt history of the Wild West blends elements of magic, steampunk and gunfights, and will have you rolling up a PC.
This one shot is a place setter for what will soon be a miniseries and has part one of a backup that ties into the main story. In the year 1879, the famous weapons inventor Copernicus Blackburne is brought to America to work for the eccentric Samuel Tygian. Lured by the promise of money and advancements in education, Blackburne exceeds all of Tygian expectations. He is put in charge of building a weapon that can kill the Devil by harnessing the unusual attributes of a mysterious glowing mineral known as the Ghost Rock. The task is accomplished by Blackburne but comes at the terrible cost of Blackburne’s family. The weapon in the form of a gun is quickly dubbed The Devil’s Six Shooter. Scarred for life, what little is left of it, Blackburne blames Tygian. What happens next will forever change history, leading the world down the path of the world of Deadlands.
On the writing side of things, Gallaher does a great job setting the tone for the beloved role-playing game, blending elements of various genres of the game. There is a lot of subtext in this story with its elements of the classic German tale of Faustus and his deal with the devil juxtaposed with Blackburne’s thirst for knowledge and his deal with Tygian. The one bit of criticism is that of the amount of narration. For the most part, the narration works well and reads like a cowboy telling stories around a campfire but some of it could have been left out.
Ellis weaves in and out of steampunk and the Wild West, blending them together effortlessly. One thing that Deadlands is known for, besides its fun and unique game play, is the art work. Much like the subtext in the writing, the art is no exception. Ellis uses the techinique of foreshadowing with Tygian’s evil shadowy grin, and the close up panels of handshakes to accent the ‘deal with the Devil’ feel of Tygian and Blackburne’s relationship.
Dimestore Backup Part 1 of 4 Written by & Color by C. Edward Sellner, Art by Oscar Capristo
Although the story is short, it provides the supernatural element of Deadlands not present in the main story. We are introduced to a famous gunfighter of the Old West and his encounter with a creature of the Lycanthrope family. Without spoiling anything, it doesn’t end well for one of them and the owner of the Devil’s Six Shooter is revealed. This is a solid but quick story that wastes no time getting into the thick of the action. The art in this book is a great follow to the main story without feeling out of place as a backup. Capristo never comprises his artistic style in blending with the main story and does a great job with character design.
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