Review by Mark Miller (“Ambush Bug”)
EARP: SAINTS FOR SINNERS #1
Writers: M. Zachary Sherman & Matt Cirulnick
Art: Mack Chater, Martin Montiel, & Colin Lorimer
Publisher: Radical Comics
Reviewer: Ambush Bug
Being an avid Western fan, I couldn’t wait to check out this slightly sci fi yet more contemporary than we would care to admit version of the Wyatt Earp story. The makers of this book have gone to great lengths to make this one of those mash-up high concepts that comic book readers drool over. And there is a lot to drool about in this lengthy first issue as Wyatt, Morgan, and Virgil Earp (along with the ever-cool Doc Holiday) take on the Jesse James gang and an army of Pinkertons. EARP: SAINTS FOR SINNERS is a pretty meaty story with characters you recognize but that shine like new in this modernized tale of outlaws and lawmen.
Where EARP is strongest is the seamless shift from Old West times to the world of the day after tomorrow. The characters fit and the setting of Las Vegas as a lawless town of corruption is a good one for the Earps to battle crime. So far in this issue, despite the setting, the story of the Earps goes pretty much hand in hand with how I remember the tales to be. A few Earps are shot down. Wyatt tries to retire. Doc is a swarthy bastard that you can’t help but love. There’s even a shoot out at the A-OK Casino which echoes the one at the OK Corral. I like that this story follows the narrative, but updates it and improves upon it by mashing in other Western outlaws such as Jesse James and his gang as a modern day Robin Hood and his Merry Men. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid are also present briefly, and the role of the Pinkertons as the Earps’ evil opposite is a great touch.
One of the things I have noticed in this day of modern comic book stories (aka non-superhero books) is that a lot of times the characters look very similar. Sure those older comics where none of the heroes took their costumes off were somewhat goofy, but there was never any confusion as to who was who. In a graphic medium, you can’t have a brown haired guy talking with another brown haired guy without things getting a bit complicated unless the artist goes to great lengths to differentiate the characters. I mention this because toward the beginning of the book, there were quite a few instances when I wasn’t sure who was who. As the book went on, there was more of a distinction between the characters, but as with the scenes where the Earps interact (all of whom have brown hair and wore the same nondescript clothing), I was pulled straight from the story as I had to reread panels in order to know who was speaking. I’m not saying the characters needed to wear nametags or costumes, but something graphically should be done to make the characters more distinct.
That qualm aside, EARP: SAINTS FOR SINNERS is a great read. It’d make a fantastic film (which I’m sure the makers of this were hoping for) and is set up in a world which I’d love to see more of. with Earp filled with rage and revenge. With a lot of the legend of Wyatt Earp depicted in this first issue, the rest of this series seems to be going off into uncharted territory. It’ll be great to see this Old West lawman take on the twisted crimes of tomorrow in future issues.