Cowboys & Aliens - So Crazy, It Just Might Work

Do you have your Fred Van Lente lights hanging from your window? Are your Fred Van Lente Day stocking hung by the chimney with care? Excellent. Let's begin.

Cowboy & Aliens is a graphic novel out today from Image Comics. The book is written by Andrew Foley and Fred Van Lente with artwork by Luciano Lima.

They have been serializing the book on the web since September, and that's all I've read (the first 49 pages, to be precise), but what I've read so far has been an engaging action story.

The basic concept of the book is simple, which is, "What if some aliens crashlanded on Earth towards the end of the 19th Century? Would they be able to conquer Earth?" The prologue to the comic, written by Andrew Foley and drawn by Dennis Calero, draws a similarity between aliens conquering our planet and the "white man" conquering the "New World." It's an interesting comparison that works quite well, really.

In the comic itself, Lima's art is nice and clean, and tells the story well. He could probably stand to work a bit on his characters, as they seem occasionally fairly stiff, but he depicts the action and the adventure quite well. I was very impressed with the professional level of his work, as I had never heard the name before.

As for the story - Foley and Van Lente had their work cut out for them, as this is one of those "Corporate Comic Books," where Platinum Studios President Scott Rosenberg came up with the "high concept" behind this comic literally years ago, and had been selling it as a movie idea for years. So Foley and Van Lente have a lot of disparate people behind the scenes to please, and the end result is a fairly "by the books" comic book, although a fun one.

Zeke and Verity are a man and woman cowboy team who are escorting a group of settlers to a town in Arizona. They are beseiged, though, by Apache, who were sold the same land. Here is a slight problem within the comic - the treatment of the Apache. I get that this is a book about fighting aliens, so "realism" is not key, but there really doesn't seem to be any attempt at getting details right with the Apache, historical or just cultural details. It looks like Lima was told, "Just draw whatever tribe you want." That was sorta annoying.

In any event, the "cowboys" and the "Indians" end up having to join forces against the aliens, and as I left off, they were just enjoying their first success.

The characters are fairly "cookie cutter," which I guess helps for film, but while familiar, they were still interesting, and the concept is intriguing enough to see the comic being worth a chance.

So far, without reading the full book, I think I would recommend this comic.

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Fred Van Lente to see,

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Our finest gifts we bring

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To lay before Fred Van Lente

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So to honor Him

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when we come.

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