Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Grave Doug Freshley

Written by Josh Hechinger
Art by mpMann

I'd always meant to pick up The Grave Doug Freshley back before Archaia comics imploded for a while, and ended up cancelling the mini-series.  By the time it came out in hardcover, I'd kind of forgotten it, until I saw it in a comics store a little while ago.

The main reason why I'd wanted this comic was for the art of mpMann, whose other comics (The Lone And Level Sands, Inanna's Tears, and Some New Kind of Slaughter) were all pretty impressive.  His minimalist cartoony style works very well for comics set in different time periods, and reminds me a little of Darwyn Cooke's work.

The story of The Grave Doug Freshley can be summed up as "Lone Wolf and Cub set in the Old West, if the Lone Wolf were dead".  A vicious gang of cattle thieves, the Delanceys, have been making life difficult for folk, killing everyone on a ranch before running off with their cattle.  They attack the McNally family, killing everyone there except for their young son Bat.  Doug Freshley, an old friend of Bat's father and Bat's tutor, is also killed, although he gets up shortly after taking a bullet to the head.  He rescues Bat from the fire the Delanceys set, and the odd pair head off looking for justice.

The story is a pretty familiar one, although the fact that Doug is dead does add a little twist to things, as does the fact that the Grim Reaper is hunting him.  This is a lighthearted and enjoyable comic, and like all Archaia hardcovers, it's built quite beautifully.