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Saturday, December 8, 2012

Solomon Kane. Death's Black Riders. Scott Allie (Writer), Mario Guievara (Art), Juan Ferreyra (Colours), Richard Starkings (Letters), Dark Horse Books (2010)

After a slightly confusing opening the comic settles down into a great story full of swashbuckling adventure and action. Solomon Kane encounters a group of travelers being attacked by weird creatures in the Black Forest and he comes to their aid. The solve survivor is a Frenchman, Gaston and he and Kane travel to a inn where they shelter for the night. Naturally the inn has troublesome secrets of its own and is later besieged by more of the creatures. The action is fast and furious, the reveals are nicely staged and all the elements are present and correct.
There is nothing new in the story, the pleasure lies in the way that Scott Allie organises it. Solomon Kane is a driven character, a Puritan adventurer who believes he has a mission from God to fight and destroy evil. He is is intense and grim, a significant distance from the usual light-hearted swashbuckling hero and all the better for it. His intensity gives the fight a ferocity and force, this is a deathly struggle and it takes all his force of will to fight. The creatures who emerge from the forest are his equal in intensity and this gives the book some much needed tension. The key question is not if Solomon Kane will win but how narrowly he will win, and in this case the gap is satisfyingly narrow.
The art by Mario Guevara is full of energy and motion, even at rest there is a sense of lurking action waiting to explode. The action, other that in the opening sequence is superb, it has a genuine physical force to it that captures and expresses the enormous force of will that drives it. The colouring by Juan Ferreyra is a little to dark for an action book, the atmosphere is strongly supported, details are slightly lost. With a sword fight, it is very much a character fight and all the details count. The climax does get great boost from the colours, they add to the urgency and the ferocity.
A very enjoyable comic.

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