Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today’s page is from Earp: Saints for Sinners #3, which was published by Radical and is cover dated April 2011. Enjoy!
Obviously, not all of these first pages can be winners, because I try as hard as I can to keep things random, so today we get the third issue of Earp: Saints for Sinners, which the nice people at Radical sent to me in the mail. Radical has published some pretty good comics, but this, unfortunately, is not one of them. The premise is that Wyatt Earp, his brothers, Doc Holliday, Jesse James, and the Pinkerton Detective Agency exist in 2030, when the Wild West has become wild again thanks to the United States falling apart to a large degree. There’s a recap page in this comic, so the creators don’t feel they have to get us up to speed, which is fine. I write “creators” because there are a lot of them – this was created by Matt Cirulnick and David Manpearl, the story is by Cirulnick, it’s written by M. Zachary Sherman, Colin Lorimar is the artist, it’s colored by Kyushik Shin, and lettered by Rus Wooton. That’s a lot of cooks!
So on this page, the bad guys have just set fire to Wyatt Earp’s casino, and they’re obviously proud of themselves. The leader knows that the good guys got out alive, so he orders his underling to fetch Morgan Earp, who was killed in the previous issue. His statement about the good guys getting a message is overlaid on the scene shift from the bad guys to Wyatt, Doc, and Kate (Doc’s girlfriend) running through an alley away from the fire. Sherman gives us some decent information that the recap page didn’t – Alan Pinkerton killed Virgil and now Morgan Earp, while Josephine, Wyatt’s new squeeze, is in the nefarious clutches of the bad guys. The worst thing about the writing in this comic is how brazenly clichéd it is – read every single word on this page, and if you haven’t heard the exact same thing (basically, of course, as certain names will be changed) in dozens of action movies, I’ll eat my hat. We have the snotty bad guy who thinks blowing shit up is cool, the calmer bad guy who knows the good guys got away, the “sending of a message” to upset the good guys, the anger of the good guy because the bad guy has struck at his family, the other good guy who says something like “You and me aren’t gonna do shit against fifteen Pinks on our own!”, the tortured hero who’s upset because his girl is in danger. The entire comic is like this. Sherman doesn’t try in any way to break out of this pattern, so while we understand what’s going on from this page, there’s no reason to read further, either.
Lorimar and Shin don’t do anything with the art to make it worthwhile, either. This is very by-the-book storytelling, unfortunately. Lorimar gives us a long shot of the bad guys walking away from the flaming wreckage, and then a close-in shot of the two bad guys talking. Look at Rodney’s face. Does he look surprised at all that the other guy is ordering him to get Morgan Earp’s body? He’s not even looking at the other guy, which I can forgive because we need to get a good look at both men, the Rodney’s facial expression is terrible. In Panel 5, Doc shoves Wyatt against the wall with what looks like baby’s hands – the disparity in size between his hands and the rest of him is odd and not explained, I don’t think, by a different perspective. Shin uses those digital paints that brushes away any nuance to the line work, and of course we get the special effects of the fire that is also a trend in comics, one I absolutely hate. The flames don’t even look like they’re part of the scene, with leaches most of the drama from the panel. The entire book is colored in this dirty, dull sheen, which makes it even uglier. When the dialogue is one cliché after another, the art needs to overcome that, but Lorimar’s and Shin’s work don’t do that.
As always with comics I hate, I feel bad about it, because I want all comics to be awesome. This first page gives you a fairly good idea of what you can expect from Earp: Saints for Sinners. It’s has a mildly clever concept, but the execution is terrible. This page does nothing to convince us otherwise.
Next: Hey, this guy used to draw stuff! How quaint! There’s nothing quaint about the archives!