Publisher: Reckless Hero
Writer, Letterer, Colourist: Chris Jenkins
Artist: Chris Imber
Released: November 2015
Whenever a sci-fi/western crops up, there’s always the now age-old joke that one simply must crack that is ‘that’ll never make it past the first season’. There, I’ve said it. First step of coming to terms with something – 14 years later, no less – is to have a sense of humour about it, isn’t it? No? Curses.
So yes, The Last Sheriff is of the Firefly oeuvre – herein, we are presented with the conceit that Sheriffs were basically cybernetically enhanced space Judges, empowered to tackle crime head-on. Pitching their tents on the losing side of a large-scale, chaos-driven coup d’etat, their numbers are down to (you guessed it) just the one. We join matters as our titular, initially unnamed hero is attempting to mete out what little justice he can to a group of kidnappers, who almost inevitably are more than they seem. Now a fugitive from chaos, he opts to fight back with the help of the woman he saved.
It’s a decent set-up, if a touch on the derivative side of things. There’s a nice inversion the Firefly trope, in that the renegades are the ones who have taken over, and our hero is the one shining beacon of law left on a planet bereft of it.
The art is solid, occasionally even flirting with pretty damn good – there’s a Humberto Ramos vibe to the stylisation of the characters, and the generous dose of action is rendered in a dynamic fashion. Jenkins’ colour work in particular does a great job of setting the tone, given the story a bold, Saturday morning cartoon texture that juxtaposes nicely against the relatively gritty nature of the plot.
There is, however, a strange lilt to the writing, particularly in the piece of prose that opens the series, as well captioning that attempts to drive the narrative forward. It’s not that it necessarily fails in that endeavour – but there’s a halting quality to the way it’s delivered, both in the fundamental sentence structure, and in the way the captioning is positioned throughout the book. It serves to create a curious discord between the written and drawn narrative, with Imber’s art drawing your eyes in one direction, and the lettering in another. You’ll find yourself on occasion having to re-read a page or two, just to make sure you followed them properly.
It’s a shame, because there is good stuff in here, and overall, it’s a perfectly readable one-two opening salvo for the series. It does get more confident as it progresses towards the final page of issue two, and I can only imagine that should we see issues 3 and beyond, Jenkins and Imber’s style will have found its feet. Worth a look, especially if you’re in the mood for something off the beaten path.
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The Writer of this piece was: Ross Sweeney
Ross tweets from @Rostopher24