Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Mirko Colak
Publisher: Dark Horse
Release Date: September 21st 2016
Creator and writer Greg Pak has conjured a magical alternate-history of the American Frontier with Kingsway West, in which the discovery of a substance known as ‘red gold’ in the 19th century changed the course of the Old West. This material ‘powered “extramundial” phenomena otherwise unexplainable by science.’ This resulted in a bloodthirsty war between two regions: the Golden City, occupied by Chinese soldiers with an obsessive allegiance to an unseen Queen, and the Republica de Los Californios, controlled by Mexican forces. Despite the fierce racial tensions amongst the warring factions, a ruthless Chinese gunslinger finds love with a Mexican fighter.
The initial instalment of the series introduced us to protagonist Kingsway Law, on a quest to find his now wife, Sophie. When Golden City soldiers arrive at their home searching for a Mexican woman named Ah Toy, Sophie fled. The pair turned their backs on their previous lives five years ago, carving a peaceful existence in the cruel world of the Wild West. As the first comic states, Kingsway’s story concerns a soldier turned monster, trying to become a man once again. All he wants is to save his wife, and their souls.
In the second instalment, after breaking his peaceful promise to Sophie and saving Ah Toy from the soldiers in a barrage of bullets, Kingsway demands that Ah Toy use the dragon she controls to find his missing wife. Dragons and other giant animals, such as rabbits ridden by humans, seem to be a result of the magical properties of red gold. This is also true of human-animal hybrids such as Strode, who is working for the Engineer who theorised the existence of red gold to find more of the substance. Without it, she will lose her magical powers and fade into history; she has been wired to depend upon her abilities – feeding into the dark designs of the Engineer’s master plan…
The strength of the comic lies in Mirko Colak’s realisation of Pak’s fantastical creatures against the realistic, gritty terrain and military uniforms, brought to life by colourist Wil Quintana’s realistic, neutral palettes.
Though the initial instalment of the series suffered from a lack of character and narrative exposition, the second issue is a promising glimpse of a weird and wonderful Wild West. It appears that Pak is slowly zooming out of the immediate action of the comic to reveal the wider world of Kingsway West, with several nuanced mysteries leaving the reader craving more.
The writer of this piece was: Rebecca Booth
Rebecca Tweets from @rebeccalbooth