Western tales of vengeance in ABOVE SNAKES #1 by Sean Lewis, Hayden Sherman and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou. Published by image comics.

Is it Western tales of vengeance you seek? Well here lies a story that might scratch that itch. The story throws you in with what seems to be a snake oil salesman who’s instead here to sell you stories. In particular the story of a man called Dirt, his tale of lost love, vengeance and the Western Justice he’s willing to dole out along the way. The mildly magical component comes from his interactions with a talking vulture called Speck that seeks Khonshu-like sacrifices from Dirt, goading him as he goes, especially when Dirt starts to give up.

The story in the first issue is executed well, a little drip feed of the world we’re stepping into with opportunities to elaborate and world-build in later issues. The story can’t avoid tropes associated with Western stories though there is the odd twist to challenge the protagonist into realising not everything is as it seems. This doesn’t have a truly happy ending but a justice that only the Wild West could bring.

The dialogue and lettering work well with the odd need for the lettering to be better spaced due to misunderstanding of certain words. However the narration that starts and ends the story, as well as the use of different fonts used for Speck and for different “languages” (you’ll see) work well.

Where the book really stood out for me was the colouring. The art is made to stand out especially due to the use of hues which gives the feel that the darkness is encroaching on the land like a Western sunset preceding the night, enveloping any goodness and hope.

I am intrigued to see what the story might bring. Will we see more of Dirt? Is this series a series of vignettes, provided to us by a salesman selling us tales for a price? I am very up for seeing where this tale goes because I’m a sucker for these types of tales. If you’re looking for something that will reinvent the wheel, this might not be the one for you, but if you want something that takes a classic tale and does it well? This is definitely something you shouldn’t miss out on.

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