Publisher: AfterShock Comics
Writer(s): Zac Thompson, Lonnie Nadler
Artwork: Sami Kivelä
Colours: Jason Wordie
Lettering: Hasan Otsmane-Elhaou
Release Date: 14th April 2021
From the pages of a battered Pulp Novel, Sol Eaton continues his reluctant alliance, joining the band of untrustworthy bandits on an ill-advised train heist that leads to a confrontation with a mythical gunman known as El Buitre – The Vulture. Meanwhile in the real world, Silvano and Bud also continue on their own equally ill-advised heist of the Equites Building, and when things inevitably go sideways they find themselves pitched against Mr. Wright and the mysterious Equites Brotherhood.
As I said in last month’s review, if you’re already a fan of the series then just add this on to your current pull list and consider business as usual. For the newer reader that hasn’t read any of my previous reviews of the series, please have a look at <insert link>, but if you’re a fan of a neo-western, noir, thriller then this is a series you should really be considering.
Have I used the word metatextual yet? Ok, now would be a good time to mention, for the benefit of new readers, that this series is based on an intriguing metatextual concept. Sol Eaton’s adventure, presented to us from between the pages of a pulp novel carried by the protagonist of each arc, is very much its own story, but is also allegorical, is influential on the motivations of the protagonists within Silvano’s story, and could be interpreted as a history of actual events within the world of those protagonists.
The nice thing about having this ‘story within a story’ approach is that the pacing can cover every want and need. For example, in this issue we have Sol’s action packed train heist alongside the much more tense and taut ascent of Silvano and Bud through the shadowy halls and corridors of the Equites building, leading to both stories reaching an explosive cliffhanger.
If you haven’t already guessed, I’m a huge fan of this series. I have been a very vocal supporter of both Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson’s work over the last few years, and I’ve yet to read anything they’ve produced that I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed. I can’t hand on heart say that I’ve ever been a huge fan of the western genre in comics, and it wasn’t until titles such as Undone By Blood, That Texas Blood, and Pulp, hit the stands that I really started to appreciate just what Western and Neo-Western stories had to offer.
The world of the Western is a much harder, harsher and in many ways simpler world, where the lines drawn between the white hats and black hats are much clearer and vengeance and justice are often swiftly and brutally meted out. I wonder if the fact that I’m now in my mid-forties and with a young family that I would do anything to keep safe makes this lifestyle seem more preferable than the chaos and unreliable justice system we face now, or whether it’s just that cowboy stories are actually really cool and offer an escapism where invariably the protagonist wins through against all odds. Of course, this isn’t always the case, as there are plenty of stories out there where the hero of the story doesn’t survive, with True Grit, The Shootist, Death of a Gunfighter, even Shane, probably being the most well-known examples.
Sol’s story in this series is a fantastic rollercoaster ride which, over both this arc and the previous one, show many facets to the man and the legend that is Sol Eaton. While his story is presented as a pulp novel, there is something about the way Thompsom and Nadler write him that occasionally makes him every bit as real and three-dimensional as any of the protagonists in the “real world”.
The other side of the Undone by Blood stories is a superb noir thriller. In the previous arc we had Ethel Grady Lane’s search for vengeance for the murder of her family, and in this arc we have Silvano’s quest to right the wrongs of his past. As I’ve previously said, the setting for this arc has the scope to deliver a really tense thriller, in a time when America was still feeling the after-effects of prohibition, and the decline of major organised crime in favour once again of the more Old West style bandits and outlaws.
I don’t know that there’s much else I can say about the artwork that I haven’t already. Sami Kivelä and Jason Wordie continue to do as fantastic a job on art duties as they have from the first page of the first issue, as has Hasan Otsmane-Elhaou who remains one of my favourite letterers in the business. Once again, the way they present the differing worlds of Sol and Silvano is beautifully rendered with some fantastic technicolour action alongside a great understanding of the impact that stillness and shadow can have on driving up the tension levels.
This remains a series that gets a 100% recommendation from me, and I can’t urge you strongly enough to start reading this one if you aren’t already.
[UNLETTERED PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek