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Friday, April 8, 2011

The Man with No Name: Saints and Sinners. Christos Gage(Writer), Wellington Dias (Art), Bruno Hang (Colours), Dynamite Entertainment (2009)

A very enjoyable sequel to the film, "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" that follows the Clint Eastwood character, the Man with No Name. He is being actively hunted by both Union and Confederate soldiers for different reasons. While trying to evade both sides he is drawn into a siege of the Mission of San Antonio where he had spent some time recovering his health. The mission is under siege from a mixed group of Union and Confederate deserters and The Man with No Name joins the fray with explosive results. The story is very engaging, the back story is filled in effectively and naturally. The action is fast and smart, the story has momentum and pace, the cast are full of energy.
The comic has a very difficult task to complete, it has to pick up the threads from a brilliant film and use them to create a comic that can stand by itself. To a considerable degree it does so, Christos Gage does an excellent job of both linking the story to the film and moving beyond it. The main story stands squarely by itself as a solid western adventure. He sensibly does very little with the title character beyond what has already been established in the films. He uses the surrounding cast to really give the story some depth and push, none are passive observers or victims, they are all driving forward as hard as they can. This gives the story a great texture as they collide in interesting ways. The ending of the story is smart and does point to a way beyond the boundaries of the film.
The shortfall in this comic is the art, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with it, it is expressive and clear, it is simply too clean. One of the most notable aspects to the films is the grimy and dusty context, it is a harsh environment and it was as much a character in the films as the human cast. The art does not capture this, it is too polished, the cast look as though their clothes were laundered. This would matter less if the story was not following on so closely from the film, in future stories it will probably matter much less.
This comic is neither insulting to fans of the film nor obscure to those not familiar with it, it is a western that understands the demands of the genre and responds to them with flair and thoughtfulness. The cover gallery featuring the series covers by Richard Isanove is stunning, they grace the story the way the epic score graced the film. Thoroughly enjoyable.

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