It’s tricky pulling off a team story. Does every character get equal time to shine, like in The Avengers? Is it actually a story about a team or is that a smokescreen and it’s really about a single protagonist who learns to be a part of a team, like every single 3 Musketeers/D’Artagnan movie I’ve ever seen? Champions of The Wild Weird West features an old western posse of seven distinct, interesting characters – just about any of whom could lead in a compelling series on their own – in a story pitting them against an equally varied mish-mash of foes with art that I’ll gush over below because I really, really dig it. It’s unfortunate that I didn’t quite enjoy the story itself, but like I said, team stories are tricky.
The five-issue mini-series from Arcana opens with a saloon fight between a samurai and bounty hunters. Let that last part sink in for a second. It’s a kick-ass action sequence that quickly proclaims this book to be a Sergio Leone-esque spaghetti western by way of Samurai Jack. The whole first third of the book involves train robberies, zombies, introducing the squad of odd-balls, and generally topping absurdity upon absurdity. Bandits accidentally let loose a plague of the living dead on a train going over a Native American burial ground infecting both the passengers and the corpses below. The Samurai Taro, the dashing and well to do adventurer New York Jack and his posse, Polikwaptaqwast, a young Native American shaman, and a masked supernatural figure named The Grey Gun converge at the scene with their own missions in mind. The newly formed Champions forge an alliance against the well to-do villains they quickly deduce were behind the attack.