Wild Western Horror
Writers: Michael Lent & Brian McCarthy | Artist: Hyunsang Michael Cho
With his dying breath, an Indian Shaman unleashes an ancient curse upon his murderers, the miners of Brimstone, and the richest gold stake ever found in the High Sierras. A week later, the town is overrun and its communication lines cut. With all the honest men fighting the Civil War, the desperate mining investors put together a collection of outlaws, killers and thieves to re-take Brimstone... by any means necessary. Led by “The Viper”, a brooding gunslinger whose brutal exploits are the stuff of Western legend, the vicious posse finds the bullet-ridden town littered with dismembered corpses but its gold stores untouched. In Brimstone, the most feared men in the West have finally found the very heart of fear.
In Brimstone, we get a blend of Western gun-slinging action and a zombie siege. It’s a nice, new and interesting gothic mash-up of the two sub-genres. Brimstone is an action-packed, tense and surprising series. Not only that, the artwork is superb.
The first issue introduces us to the ragtag band of mercenaries called in by the Walker Mining company to reinforce and protect the mining settlement in Brimstone. Given that the Civil War is raging in the rest of the country, most able-bodied men are out fighting for the Confederacy or the Union. This leaves Walker Mining with the scum at the bottom of the barrel, as well as social pariahs and undesirables. It’s not the most exciting first issue, I must admit, but it is visually very, very nice (see below).
Things really start to happen in the second issue, as the band of enforcers finally arrive at Brimstone, and they witness the devastation and multiple dead and rotting (and just a little nibbled) bodies littered about the place. What follows are the group’s attempts to put an end to the curse victims’ threat, and find a safe way to ship out the gold. We get some moments where we have to question the sanity of a couple of our characters – for example, the horde of zombies are in the mine? So why are you going in there?! Also, where there’s gold, there’s gold fever, and given the less-than-solid morals of the group, plots are made and double-crosses are never far from people’s minds. There’s a very high body count, and the story is brought to a bittersweet end after some pretty ingenious zombie-killing methods used.
The artwork is distinctive and very atmospheric, with a look more akin to a painting than more-familiar comic-styles. I really like it; I think Cho has managed to capture the atmosphere brilliantly, and there are a lot of very nice compositions and full-page pieces. I’m going to have to find out what else Cho’s worked on.
Overall, this is an interesting and beautifully rendered Western-horror story, with some interesting characters and superb visuals. It fits perfectly into that sub-genre of comics (and fiction, for that matter), ticking off some of the standard tropes but without being boring or totally derivative. I really enjoyed this.
#1-3 Alternate Covers