by AJ Lieberman (writer), Riley Rossmo (artist)

The Story: Dr. Ghislain is the creator of a program that that trains people suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder to become killers known as Triplets.  Duncan, living his life as a Cowboy, a Ninja, and a Viking, is one of these Triplets and remains Ghislain’s greatest success, even if he/they want to kill the good doctor.  When another Triplet goes rogue, Ghislain and Duncan must put aside their differences to track him down.

The Good: Cowboy Ninja Viking has proven itself to be a very different kind of story, and that’s a great quality to possess in an industry saturated with mediocrity.  Lieberman has hit the ground running with a plot that is clearly aware of the many genres it draws influence from and unapologetic in wearing those influences on its sleeve with pride.  At the same time though, Lieberman’s not afraid to have a little fun with the story, and you can see that in the way he approaches the Triplets.  I enjoyed Duncan’s multiple personality commentaries and thought the uniquely-styled dialogue bubbles were a fun touch (the Cowboy has a six-shooter, the Viking has an axe, and the Ninja has a sword).  I wasn’t a huge fan of Rossmo’s art on Proof, but his style has definitely won me over on this book and feels more appropriate here, where the grainy linework gives the story the feel of an epic grindhouse movie.

The Not So Good: This issue is largely set up and explanation as the cast of characters needs to be introduced and fleshed out, and the plot needs to be laid out enough to give readers a sense of what the hell is happening.  This was a necessary evil for what I suspect is going to be a skillfully complex story, but I have to admit it made for some slow reading.  I was also left wondering what the point is, if any, of training people with Multiple Personality Disorder to become killers, beyond being a quirky plot twist.  This is one detail I feel Lieberman needs to address at some point if he wants to retain readers.

Conclusion: Cowboy Ninja Viking is a complex tale of action, espionage, and psychosis from a skilled creative team, and I’m definitely on board to see what happens next!

Grade:  B-

-Tony Rakittke