Earp: Saints for Sinners #1-2 (Radical)

Las Vegas is the last boomtown in a dystopic America that’s devolved into lawlessness in this futuristic Wild West tale.


62 pgs., color; 5.99 (#1); 22 pgs., color; 3.50 (#2)
(W: M. Zachary Sherman, Matt Cirulnick; A: Mack Chater, Martin Montiel, Colin Lorimer)
Earp: Saints for Sinners is a dystopian Western set in the near future. American circa 2030 bears a remarkable resemblance to the Wild West of popular movies, if not always of the historical West, being populated with gunslingers and outlaws who are opposed by lawmen attempting to impose and maintain some semblance of order and decency. But it’s also a modern world of automatic weapons, bullet trains and Humvees as well as shimmering skyscrapers and casinos in America’s last remaining boomtown, Las Vegas.
The rest of the country has basically gone to pot after some familiar-sounding problems: a stock market crash compounded by home loan scandals, leading to a worldwide depression and widespread riots as well as a sustained level of opportunistic criminal violence. Official corruption is endemic, the Pinkerton Agency provides security for those who can afford it, bank robbers are media celebrities and widespread computer hacking has made cash the only acceptable medium of exchange. Wyatt Earp, retired after 17 years as a U.S. Marshall, is now operating the A-OK Casino in Vegas while his brother Morgan has joined up with Jesse James, who sees robbery as a means of dispensing justice through wealth redistribution. Doc Holliday is also in the mix as is a hotter-than-hot chanteuse named Josie Marcus who needs rescuing from a predatory manager and a long-term contract of the type outlawed by the Paramount Decree of 1948. Everything old really is new again in the world of Earp, as decades if not centuries of human progress have been wiped out with the collapse in most of the world of any semblance of a functioning civil society.
Earp: Saints for Sinners is another film-pitch comic and it has already succeeded in that regard: it’s been sold to DreamWorks with Sam Raimi slated to direct and Matt Cirulnick to write the screenplay. The good news is that it works pretty well as a comic also. The concept is interesting, there’s some moral complexity to the story and characters, and goodness knows there’s plenty of action, including a spectacular payroll-train robbery in the first issue. Most importantly, the imagined world of the comic is consistent and believable, and the many references to tropes from classic Westerns actually make sense within that world. I did get impatient with all the jumping around in time in the first issue (it seems like a desperate attempt to cram in all the back story at once) but things seem to have calmed down with the second issue.
The palette of Earp is consistently murky, as if the sun were perpetually blocked by an industrial haze or everyone has become part-vampire and dares not venture outdoors in full daylight. This makes the action scenes muddier than necessary and also makes it difficult to distinguish among characters except for those provided with clear identifying attributes (Jesse James wears a red jacket like James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause, Doc Holliday has upswept blond hair like a young Val Kilmer). But the dark palette does provide a unifying look for the comic and it’s consistent with the overall tone of the story. On the minus side, the artistic crew seems more enthusiastic about designing buildings than people: the depictions of the futuristic Las Vegas are spectacular in a very 1930s Hollywood sense while the character designs are ordinary at best. You can see a preview of issue #2 here: http://www.kittyspryde.com/?p=12524. | Sarah Boslaugh

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