The Book Written by Erik Hendrix and Michael David Nelson
Art by Amanda Rachels
Colors by Gavin Michelli
Letters by Erik Hendrix
Edited by Amanda Hendrix Arcana Comics
Release Date: December 2012
Cover Price: $14.95
Creators Erik Hendrix and Michael David Nelson melded their own separate story ideas together to form The Book. Hendrix wanted to write a story about people killing themselves to see what’s in the afterlife. Nelson was toying with the idea of travelers hunting down collaborative, “off the grid” travel guides. The resulting story is a compelling twist on the old possession storyline. The Book is an inverse ghost story where the living want to explore the afterlife and, as a result, bring a little afterlife back with them. It’s a ritualistic twist on the movie Flatliners.
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.