As the summer months settle in, the comic events are getting more intense and entangled, with spin-offs, tie-ins, and crossovers aplenty. Sometimes you just need to put those to the side and read a good old comic about cowboys riding grizzly bears. About the only thing more “made for comics” than cowboys on bare-bearback is gorillas riding dinosaurs. There’s no gorillas here, though, as Reed Gunther brings his wild and wacky west adventures into the second issue published by Image Comics.
The brothers Houghton, while content to leave the first issue as a standalone tale, bring enough characters and history (well, after one issue, there isn’t much “history,” but there is some) into this second issue to make it a more rewarding tale for those familiar with this first issue of the series. The three main characters – titular gunslinger, Reed Gunther; his trusty transport and sidekick, Sterling; and Reed’s galpal, Starla – return from the first adventure and make their presence known in this issue.
This issue of “Reed Gunther” is exuberant in the same way that the doodles in the margins from last week’s meeting notes kept you going through that meeting. There’s a raw enthusiasm in Chris Houghton’s artwork that really injects life into the story. Chris’ work is well thought out and planned that it’s not very difficult to imagine the in-betweens that occur between panels, as though this issue were a series of cels from a Reed Gunther cartoon assembled as a print version (or digital facsimile thereof) for expedited review.
Unlike many comics today, this story is fun and enjoyable, providing an adventure with consequences, but never taking itself too seriously. It’s clear that the Houghton brothers are trying to deliver a fun book here, and it succeeds. If you’re buying this book expecting something in the vein of “Jonah Hex,” you’re going to be mistaken, but if you want a western adventure that plays up the “adventure” and the “wild” of the Old West, then this book is for you.
Worthy of an “all ages” label without pandering to either side of the age spectrum, this issue just shows that there’s no separating a cowboy and his bear.