Undone by Blood was one of the best series of 2020 so it’s no surprise a TV adaptation is in production and the comic is getting a second act this week. In The Other Side of Eden, Zac Thompson, Lonnie Nadler, Sami Kivelä, and Jason Wordie aim to mix pulp Western with a plot involving a skullduggery set in 1934. This is the kind of comic book you can’t find anywhere else and a shining example of how indie comics publishers are needed so that creators can tell different kinds of stories. It’s a love letter to two different eras, the pulp novel, and the darkness one finds themselves committing crimes and plotting them.
Similar to the first series, this book mixes the prose of a western with events taking place in a modern age. This time, that modern age is a bit older than the ’70s of the first volume — things are set in 1934. It’s an age that’s a bit closer to gunslinger Solomon Eaton’s 1800s which allows the creators to juxtapose the different eras in American history in new and interesting ways. After the first page’s well-written conclusion to another Eaton novel, we soon meet Silvano Luna Del Rio who decides to purchase the book. Who reads the end of a book before starting it? His reason helps convey what type of person we’re about to follow.
In fact, Del Rio is a fascinating type of character who is quiet, contemplative, and maybe even a little conniving. Kivelä draws this character well, capturing the internal thought process of the man which makes his silent nature all the more compelling. This character and how he’s rendered draws you into the narrative, steering you to the edge of your seat.
What is he thinking? What is he plotting? Is he a good man or a bad one? These are ideas that’ll flow through your mind as he reads new chapters in the Western and we’re introduced to his compatriot who is plotting something, and even when he looks into shop windows. Set in the height of the Great Depression, it’s an interesting time for everyone young and old which are all depicted here. How Del Rio fits into this world is a compelling aspect you’ll attempt to crack.
Then again, the narrative presented here is quite dreamlike and with a flowing pace that’s strong and all its own. By the end it’s clear life imitates art, but what does that mean for a fictional cowboy versus a smartly dressed young man with seemingly nothing to lose?
Even though much of this book takes place in the ’30s amongst city scenes and suburbs, there is an unmistakable Western feel to the narrative. This partly is due to color artist Wordie, who uses warm yellows, dusty pinks, and flat orange backgrounds to convey a lean time like that of the fall season. It’s hard going with the Great Depression afoot and you can feel that in the nature of the characters and the colors around them.
This is the kind of work you need to be in the right mood for. Its contemplative nature requires you to be interested in the world, its characters, and what is really going on. It’s a mystery of sorts and your interest in this material will vary. That said, as a single-issue comic it lays the groundwork for what could be a heist story you won’t want to miss. Well worth exploring, Undone By Blood: The Other Side of Eden offers a richly rendered world with a leisurely and absorbing style.
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