Pale Horse #1

This is a quick and dirty tale of revenge and retribution that is set up through stereotype and idiocy. Set in the wild west of 1862, this is a story of Cole, a man whose life is destroyed within the first few pages of this issue. Finding his wife raped and murdered, Cole sets upon a path of revenge, finding and killing the men who destroyed Cole's home.

It's not a pretty story, but with murder and revenge running rampant, it shouldn't be a pretty story. Dibari's art is gritty and raw and largely unpolished. The story calls for the gritty and the raw, but the unpolished could use some work. Cole's son, for example, looks less like a child and more like an adult with a form of dwarfism. All of the gunslingers are drawn with the exact same crazy eyes, regardless of race or age. These are facets that can be worked on and corrected. Overall, the art is reminiscent of John Romita Jr.'s style, which until now I never realized would be a great match for western adventures.

The methods Cole chooses to kill the men who have wronged him are disturbingly depicted in this story. We're spared the gore and the detail of Cole's wife's demise, but those that killed her are boldly disfigured and disposed of to the point where it seems to be just done for effect to show how very angry Cole is.

The writing could have carried more of Cole's burden rather than relying on grisly murders. Cole's little more than a Wild West Punisher with a child in tow. It may borrow the high concept from "Lone Wolf and Cub," but it falls short.

This isn't a book about redemption and justice; it's a book about revenge and murder. It's a one-note book at this point, and gritty revenge can only take a story so far. I'm hopeful that we haven't already reached that limit.

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