Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Sydney Duncan
Artwork & Colours: Natalie Barahona
Letters: Troy Peteri
Release Date: 4th December 2019
1864, Donovan County Alabama, during the height of the American Civil War. Anna Hoyt has vowed to kill the man responsible for the death of her sister, her fiancé Jim “Whitey” Donovan. However, Anna is ill equipped for the journey ahead of her, being the pampered daughter of a prominent doctor, so she enlists the help of one of the local slaves, Hattie Virgil to help her make her way North. Hattie however, has her own agenda and will lead them on a journey that will change them both forever.
Cards on the table. There are the seeds of a good story here but honestly, I’m just not sold on the series based on this first issue. I understand the premise, and the motivations are relatable enough, but the narrative didn’t grab me at all and I couldn’t connect with any of the characters.
Our main protagonist Anna is not a particularly sympathetic or engaging character, and by all accounts she certainly should be. Her family is in ruins, her sister has committed suicide and the man she loved is responsible. She has chosen to make it her responsibility to avenge her sister and her family, and that should show a character of resolve and strength and determination, but Anna is none of these things. Heck, even her travelling companion exclaims that if she’s going to keep whimpering she might as well go home. That being said, Hattie is no more sympathetic or capable, and I can’t see how either of them are going to make it to Whitey Donovan let alone kill him
To further compound the issue with the characters being generally unlikeable, I found the pacing to be more than a little erratic. It features fits and starts of action that don’t really drive the plot and, for me, made it, if not difficult to follow, then at least erratic enough to further distract me and take me out of the story completely.
Natalie Barahona does a workmanlike job of the artwork, and there’s little to criticise, although the style does become a little cartoony in places which is slightly distracting. I would also have liked to see more depth and shadow to bring out the tension of Anna and Hattie’s escape through the woods. With the writing not being particularly strong, we needed some really good art to grab the reader and keep invested in the story, but I just don’t feel that Barahona manages to pull this off.
On the whole, this is a real missed opportunity. There is a wealth of Western revenge stories that Duncan and Barahona could have drawn from, and an incredible number of strong, vengeful heroines that they could have looked at for inspiration. What we ultimately get, however, is a disappointing and easily forgettable effort that definitely won’t be making it onto my pull list.
The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek