Sean Lewis and Hayden Sherman join forces again to bring us a good old fashioned Western revenge tale in their new Image Comics series Above Snakes #1. The story begins in the Genesis Desert in 1866, where we are introduced to a man name Dirt. Dirt returns home from war to discover that his beloved wife Dorothea has been murdered. A black bandana is Dirt’s only clue to the person responsible for Dorothea’s death. Thirsty for vengeance, Dirt sets out on a journey across the desert to exact revenge with his only companion, a talking vulture named Speck.
Now, it’s questionable whether Speck is real or if Dirt has PTSD from the war, but for now, Dirt goes wherever Speck tells him to go across the desert. The first issue sees Dirt and Speck travel to a town called Lazarus to find a guy named Cubber who runs a whore house that could contain information involving his wife’s death. If you’ve read any of Sean Lewis’s previous comics like Thumbs or The Few, you already know you’re in for a treat. Lewis is exceptionally good at creating a protagonist that readers can sympathize with and want to root for, and Dirt is no exception.
As far as character development, we learn many important details about Dirt in the first few pages. Dirt’s a broken man. He’s lying in the desert, not caring about his well-being. Ironically, he has a vulture around. The more you read about Dirt, the more you feel bad for this guy who thought he would come home and start his life again with his childhood sweetheart. Speck gives him the drive and motivation to move forward with his vengeance, and the writing quickly makes us understand that.
Hayden’s illustrations do a terrific job of capturing the comic’s essence. So many of the characters we encounter during Dirt’s journey have trauma or some history when we meet them. That being said, his drawings bring gritty and rawness to them, making the characters feel real. Hassan-Otsmane-Elhaou matches that energy with perfectly placed positioning of Dirt’s caption’s throughout the book.
Above Snakes #1 is a fresh and entertaining first issue. The stakes feel real, and the progression and pacing are balanced well throughout the comic. If you like revenge stories and Westerns, then look no further.
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