Above Snakes Vol. 1

Above Snakes Vol. 1
Sean Lewis, writer; Hayden Sherman, artist; Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, lettering
Image Comics, 2023

Above Snakes is a supernatural Western, a rare genre indeed. The most recent example is writer Cullen Bunn and artist Brian Hurtt's The Sixth Gun; before that, there was the Vertigo version of Johan Hex. The protagonist is named Dirt, and his mission is to avenge his wife's death at the hands of the Above Snakes Gang. His partner is an imaginary vulture named Speck, who mainly wants blood–which Dirt's activities supply, intended or not. He gets his main object of revenge in the first issue, but continues on to help the world. That turns out to be pretty messy: the vulture falls in love, he rescues a couple of people who get killed because of it, and he finally learns the identity of the true author of his wife's death. After getting his final revenge, he declines the offer to go on as the spirit of Western justice. This collection really does look like The End (as the final panel says). Sherman provides pretty simple visuals, but his characterization is solid, and his colors can be downright psychedelic.

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  • "The most recent example is writer Cullen Bunn and artist Brian Hurtt's The Sixth Gun; before that, there was the Vertigo version of Johan Hex."

    ...and before that it was the Topps version of The Lone Ranger and Tonto...


    ...and Dark Horse's Dead in the West...


    ...both written by Joe R. Lansdale.

  • Lansdale wrote the Vertigo Johan Hex miniseries, too. I haven't read these!

  • I didn't really care for The Lone Ranger and Tonto one, to be perfectly honest, but I was expecting (or at least hoping for) a more "traditional" story. It takes place early in their partnership, I remember. Based on the subject matter (zombies), I thought it would have worked better as a later tale. I didn't care much for the zombie angle myself, but I did like the backstory. Penny dreadful novels have been written about him and the portrayal of the "Lone Ranger" legend has gone to his head. Tonto , who considers himself an equal partner, resents his characterization as "sidekick." I probably shoud reread it at some point, now that I know what to expect. Anyone who likes the "supernatural western" genre should like it as long as (if he's also a Lone Ranger fan) he pretends it takes place on "Earth-L" or wherever. 

    I don't remember much about Dead in the West, but Tim Truman did only the covers, not the interiors. I don't recall who drew it, but the art is well suited to the story (two issues). Like you said, "a rare genre indeed." 

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