By: Andrew Cosby (story), Michael Alan Nelson (writer), Christian Dibari (art), Andres Lozano (colors) & Johnny Lowe (letters)

The Story: In Civil War-era Wyoming, a mad seeks vengeance for the murder of his wife while trying to raise a son.

What’s Good: I’ve always loved good westerns and there really should be a few more western-themed comics.  Pale Horse is much more on the Clint Eastwood side of the genre (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Outlaw Josey Wales, Unforgiven, etc.).  That’s good as I don’t really enjoy the more heroic western where the sheriff runs the bandits out of town.

The first issue does a good job of establishing the central character of Cole.  He really kinda has the deck stacked against him.  For one thing, being a black man in the 1860’s wasn’t that easy and the comic plays up the redneck, racist crap in the early pages.  For another, he is avenging the death of his wife who was Native American.  Now….I don’t know what things were really like in the Old West, but from watching the movies, it is pretty clear that the authorities back then didn’t care if Native Americans were murdered.  And…..for a third thing, he is trying to take care of his young son.  So, dude really has some problems!  Not to mention how screwed up the kid is going to be going bounty hunting with daddy from birth.

But, the good thing is that Cole appears to be a complete bad ass.  He’s big, mean and good with his guns.  He’s a black Josey Wales!  It’s always a good start for a comic when the main character is a bad ass!

What’s Not So Good: The entire Western movie genre is pretty played out.  If you think about the only good Westerns made in the last 30 years, they all star very charismatic actors (Eastwood, Russell Crowe, Ed Harris, Gene Hackman, etc.).  Basically there aren’t any new scenarios in the Western genre anymore, so the projects have to get by on charisma and cinematography.

Translate this to comics and the creators area going to have an even more uphill task.  The writer just isn’t going to be able to come up with a truly original concept, so the success of a Western comic will fall on the artist.  This art is very serviceable, but it doesn’t pop.  I think the overall style is correct, but for some reason it just isn’t quite conveying the charisma that is needed to put this over the top.

Conclusion: A solid start to a Western comic, but nothing too special.

Grade: C

– Dean Stell