By: Quentin Tarantino & Reginald Hudlin (story), R.M. Guéra (art), Giulia Brusco (colors)

The Story: Django’s finally letting loose—everybody run for cover!

The Review: To be honest, it’s a little hard to summon up the appropriate enthusiasm for this final issue—not that the series has stretched on for too long or gotten boring or anything like that.  It just feels like the most exciting parts of the story have already passed.  The deaths of both Calvin Candie and Dr. Schultz, Django’s primary antagonist and most charismatic figure respectively, felt very much like a kind of climax; what’s left now is mostly the wrap-up.

But if one’s idea of tying loose ends involves a lot of blades and guns, even that can be quite entertaining.  Without his mentor to advise restraint, Django completely fulfills the mandate of this title and goes all out in taking down everybody who’s ever wronged him, and when I say everybody, I mean everybody.  Not even the Candyland dogs who fed upon a poor, worn-out Mandingo in #5 get off scot-free.

The conclusion of a story is usually a time of reflection, but in a funny turn of events, Hudlin seems to have gotten all of the most psychologically compelling scenes out of the way, leaving an endless stream of pure action to fill the final issue.  I don’t know why he even bothers tacking on Timmy, a little black boy who unexpectedly and almost randomly commiserates with Django over the death of Schultz: “I lost a white friend once.  He drowned in the lake.”  Since our hero doesn’t acknowledge the line, nor does Hudlin pick up on it later, your reaction to this bald, pointless sort of statement is along the lines of, So?

Even Hildi gets into the swing of things, abandoning the reserved, teary act she’s kept up for nearly the entire series in favor of a more self-assured, playful personality that makes her seem like an entirely different woman altogether.  Her reunion with Django should be a big moment—this is what the whole story’s been advancing for, after all—but somehow it lacks that oomph you’ve been expecting.  The thing is, we’ve already seen her swoon at his appearance; this is just a repeat.  You’re happy for them, but the thrill is gone.

Perhaps Hudlin would have taken more time landing his moments if he had the time, but this series has already stretched on two issues longer than it was supposed to, and he’s got things he absolutely has to do before we fade out for good.  Thus, when Django would otherwise spend a few more panels mourning his dead friend, he instead uses them to finish off the rest of Candyland’s masters.  In seconds, it’s all over, which is both impressive and disappointing.  Sure, being “the fastest gun in the South” is worth all kinds of admiration, but it’s also a bit anticlimactic to have all your enemies go down so quickly, with nary a struggle.*

Well, at least we get Guéra back on art for the last chapter of this mostly solid series.  Guest artists have provided decent work during his absence, but once he takes up the artistic reins once more, you regret all that time he wasn’t around.  While there’s a bit of exaggeration in the characters’ facial features, they’re no more pronounced than those you’ve seen from other Django artists.  Besides, the massive amount of detailing Guéra puts into the issue is more than worth it; Django cooking up a special meal for the Candyland dogs seems all the more macabre when you see how calmly he does it while stepping over the cadavers of rednecks bleeding on their fallen playing cards in their cabin.  Despite the graphic nature of the issue, Brusco’s warm colors make the gore seem evenhanded, even friendly.

Conclusion: We’ve had stronger issues in earlier months, but you can do worse than a solid conclusion to an adaptation that’s shown a lot of integrity.

Grade: B

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: * It’s no wonder swordsmen have such disdain for guns.  I mean, where’s the fun?

– Is it wrong of me to feel a little sorry for Lara Candie?  It doesn’t feel quite right that she has to die alongside the real perpetrators of Candyland’s worst vices.