- Posted by Johanna on May 31, 2009 at 8:47 am
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
- CREDITS: by Kazu Kibuishi
- PUBLISHER: Viper Comics; $10.95 US
Kazu Kibuishi’s science fiction Western Daisy Kutter: The Last Train uses distinctly toned art to put a new spin on traditional elements. Daisy was a noted thief and gunslinger, but she’s now retired, running a dry goods store and very bored.
Her ex-partner, Tom, is the town’s sheriff, and two strangers have just appeared to try and recruit Daisy to rob a train. This could be a traditional Western, until the robots show up. At that point, it has a lot of the flavor of Serenity, with its modern take on morality and living outside the law. What makes this particular setup unusual is that they claim that the train’s owner wants Daisy to plan the robbery in order to test his security systems.
Kibuishi’s best-known for editing Flight, but in this, his first long-form work, the pacing sets this story apart. The opening scene, which establishes Daisy’s skills, mood, and personality, is wordless until another character arrives, yet the reader is instantly swept into the environment through differently sized panels that focus on key elements. Together, moments make up the bigger picture. Kibuishi’s fondness for small panels make for a dense story with plenty of world-building, although he uses full-page images when the mood calls for it.
All the classic scenes are here: the poker game showdown. The barroom face-off. The memories around the old gun. And of course, the climactic showdown on the deserted, dusty main street. I particularly liked the rain scenes, with Daisy pondering her choices while the water pours down on her — it’s a powerful visual, well-executed. She’s a strong, tough lead, a pleasure to watch.
The clash between individuality and the rule of law is at the root of every Western, and here the conflict is foregrounded though Daisy’s history with Tom. She’s always made her own rules and lived true to her own beliefs, but Tom now represents the rules of society. She can’t accept that maybe he’s right, or maybe he’s grown up in ways she hasn’t. Her stubbornness puts them both in danger; relying on only her skill isn’t enough. She has to learn to share with those she trusts.