No problem as CBR News caught up with Editor-In-Chief Mark Waid to get some details on “Pale Horse,” directly from the horse’s mouth.
“The book is from a concept by [BOOM! Co-Founder] Andrew Cosby, but the talent is yet to be determined, but I’d love a crack at it myself if I can find the time,” Waid told CBR News, best known for his acclaimed runs on “Flash,” “Fantastic Four” and the limited-series “Kingdom Come.”
Asked if the concept was more 1960s spaghetti western “A Fistful of Dollars” or 2007 “3:10 to Yuma,” Waid answered, “It’s actually more ‘Unforgiven’ by way of ‘The Fugitive.’
“It takes place near the end of the Civil War, back when the Western frontier was still a lawless, Godforsaken collection of territories where disputes were solved at the end of a gun barrel,” Waid continued. “‘Pale Horse’ is the story of Franklin Hale, a Black man who worked as a Union spy during the war and eventually faked his own death so he could retire to a quiet life with his family.
“But when they’re killed, Hale takes off after their murderers, and in doing so, is forced to draw attention to the fact that he’s very much alive, something that comes as a surprise to his former superiors in the Union Army. Hale knows too much for them to allow him to wander freely, so even as he stalks his family’s killers, he himself is being hunted by his former mentor.”
“Pale Horse” is planned as a four-issue limited series to be released in early fall. And while it is Western in every sense, it also possesses some very classic elements, too.
“Andy’s story has an almost mythic quality reminiscent of ancient Greek or Shakespearean tragedy,” said Waid. “It takes cues from Homer’s ‘Odyssey,’ in which Odysseus, long thought to be dead, returns home from the Trojan Wars to find his household and family name destroyed and seeks revenge against those responsible.
“The themes of fidelity, homecoming, overcoming hardship through persistence and ingenuity, life’s fickle nature, and the treachery and dignity of men are all part of ‘Pale Horse.’
“At its core, it’s the story about the enduring power of a man’s love for his wife and family despite the hardships of distance and isolation. In Hale’s case, this distance is an emotional one, created by his inability to cope with his wife’s death. ‘Pale Horse’ is about a man reinventing himself until he finds the right road, one that will ultimately deliver him from defeat and death.”
While books like “Jonah Hex” and “Lone Ranger” have achieved critical praise in the last few years, neither would be considered a blockbuster or top seller.
But numbers don’t dictate everything, said Waid.
“It’s time for us to launch ‘Pale Horse’ because the story’s strong. And because it’s not spandex. And because we know we won’t sell gangbusters, but we will tell a damn good story, and that’s what I care about.”
And when Mark Waid is your pitchman, that’s what readers care about.