Publisher: Image Comics
Story By: Brian Schirmer
Art By: Claudia Balboni
Release Date:13th January, 2016
Black Jack Ketchum, in layman’s terms, is weird. Even for a Weird Western comic, it’s truly bizarre. In the first issue, a man called Tom Ketchum found himself on the run from a mysterious Judge and her servants (who sort of resemble Ring Wraiths from Lord of the Rings) due to a case of seemingly mistaken identity, because they believed him to be an outlaw named Jack. It ended on a surreal note, with Jack taking into the night following an incident. All good comics end on an incident though, right? And as odd and confusing as Black Jack Ketchum is, it is a good series thus far.
In this issue, Tom wakes up in a cell, with three of the townsfolk offering him the position of sheriff as a reward for murders he didn’t commit. If he rejects, The Judge will be informed of his captivity and called upon to give him a trial. Bear in mind this is the same woman who wants him dead because she thinks he’s the outlaw Jack, so naturally he accepts in order to escape the noose. However, following a saloon fire, The Judge is on her way regardless, and Tom is back in the pickle.
Black Jack Ketchum isn’t going to be for for everybody, and it’s bound to put off as many readers as it will entice. Those expecting some rip roarin’ yee hawin’ in the Old West will be disappointed; this is a mind bending, supernatural thriller, with the bare minimum foundation of familiarity and explanation. The exposition is practically non-existent, but it tosses in just enough clues to make for a cohesive read. Writer Brian Schirmer has a confident grasp on his confusing material, and he bends tropes at will to create something that’s both fascinating and surreal.
As a mystery, it’s very engaging and there’s no telling where it will go from here. All the pieces are in place to build on hell of a puzzle, but at the moment all we know is what we’re given – which isn’t a lot, so don’t expect answers quite yet. Overall, I suggest picking this up, but do so at your own risk as the story is very unconventional and non-linear; amnesiac even.
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The writer of this piece was: Kieran Fisher
Kieran Tweets from @HairEverywhere_.