Picking from where we left off, we find Ethel Grady Lane in custody at the town of Sweetwater. For an issue that focuses predominantly on dialogue in the Ethel narrative, it’s a surprise to me how arresting the visuals are. Sami Kivela has one magnificent panel layout in particular that was one of the most significant ways to allow for these unique passages of time within the same area.
The conceit of this meta-narrative really hones in on the comics medium. Nadler and Thompson allow for consistent bleeding of the fictional narrative into Ethel’s own story. There are great moments where she clearly is roleplaying as though she were this fictitious cowboy, that we as readers become self-conscious of. Earnestly, comics have always pushed readers towards our fantasies into an ideal of reality. But here, Nadler and Thompson push for that ideal to be more limited. There is this great awareness of how our own modern culture has become influenced by our consumption of stories as a whole.
The pair really manages the reader’s attention by playing this ebb and flow with how readers experience either the Ethel Grady Lane narrative or the Sol Eaton narrative. This offers some grace in that one is allowed to sprinkle hardcore action and suspense, whilst the other is allowed to unfurl into a slow character study.
Sami Kivela’s artwork is stellar in this issue, with his beautiful panel layouts and characters being unique sensibilities. Each image has this great texture within it. This texture is properly envisioned through Jason Wordie’s contrasted coloring palettes for the dual narratives. The pair gives the book this great film grain quality that helps make the story wander. Otsame-Elhaou gives some cool captioning that really individualize the stories but also gives some sense of a tether throughout them.
This issue has managed to assuage any doubts that this is a definitively unique Western experience. From pacing to art, the creators of this series are pushing to innovate the medium along with the genre they work in.