- Posted by Johanna on March 26, 2011 at 9:46 pm
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
- CREDITS: writers: Andrew Foley and Fred Van Lente; artists: Dennis Calero, Luciano Lima, J. Wilson, Silvio Spotti, Luciano Kars, and Magic Eye Studios
- PUBLISHER: It Books / HarperCollins; $24.99 US
I probably won’t see Cowboys & Aliens this summer — it’s due out July 29 — since I found out they’re playing it straight, without the comedy I would expect. But I admit, I was curious to see the graphic novel it was based on, since I felt as though I already knew so much about it without having ever seen it.
I don’t really want to get into the credit situation, other than to say that I’ve become leery of any work with too many hands touching it. I prefer more focused visions, although in this case, once you get past the high concept of the title, I’m not sure there’s much more to say about it.
The story itself, such as it is, is full of action scenes, beginning with cowboys being attacked by natives. Then a spaceship lands, which leads to aliens vs. Indians, aliens vs. the calvary, aliens attacking the town, several “fight then team up” encounters, plus sacrifices, battles, and sneak attacks.
The art is competent — you can tell what you’re supposed to be seeing, but there’s no heart to it, and sometimes it’s just a bit off in terms of the perspective or anatomy. The dialogue is pure exposition, as characters talk to themselves or others to tell us what we’re seeing. Events happen abruptly, there’s no characterization, and the cast is barely two-dimensional in motivation.
I suggest ignoring the laughable preview completely, which uses overwritten prose to compare the treatment of Native Americans with the alien conqueror — equating the cowboys to interstellar slavers, in direct contrast to the rest of the book, which is very modern in the way all the humans team up, whether occupier or native. (You can see some of the prologue, as well as other random pages, in this online excerpt.)
If you’re at all interested in seeing the movie, I would recommend you not read this book. Actually, I don’t recommend anyone read this book, since it’s nothing but a string of clichés. I don’t know how faithfully the movie is following it, but I suspect enjoyment of the film will be damaged if you know the plot twists, predictable as they are, ahead of time. That this book exists is a testament to the power of the right title, even one as obvious as this.
On the other hand, if you see the movie and love it, getting this book to remember it by is likely going to be cheaper than the Blu-ray. (The publisher provided a review copy.)