- Weird Western Adventures: Bea & James
- Studio Stella Polaris & Plot Twist Publishing
- Written by Greg Boucher
- Bonus story “Buried” by Greg Boucher & Rob Lemus
- Illustrated by
- James Stone
Two very different stories, bringing two unique Western Heroes to the page!
There are a couple different kinds of stories that will get my attention every time: Steampunk & Weird West. Whether they hold my attention or not is up to how well they’re done, which isn’t a guarantee no matter who’s behind the pen. Both are off-shoots of established genres, science fiction & fantasy, often combining elements of both and having to walk a fine line to get the tone just right.
Probably the most famous dive into the Weird Western comic is the tragically underutilized Jonah Hex, from DC Comics. A few personal favorites that I’ve run across are High Moon by David Gallaher & Steve Ellis, and Western Noir by Dave West & Gary Crutchley (reviewed here & here for anyone interested in the genre). After getting a look at Weird Western Adventures, I’m pretty happy to add another title to the list. An anthology series with two volumes in the can so far (single issues are available digitally now), it got my attention by playing to my love of the Western, and held it with a unique approach as an anthology series.
The first volume introduced a couple interesting characters in Ajax, a different spin on the Frankenstein theme, and “Bea” as she makes her way through the unfamiliar environment of the wild west. The second volume fills in some of the blanks on Bea’s story. As it turns out, her real name is Bialah and she’s an alien from a highly advanced civilization, stranded on our little backwater dust ball. The second story spins the origin story of James Clay, a young gunslinger on a road to revenge.
As the mind behind this anthology series, Greg Boucher seems to be having a great time indulging in some world building, and he’s taking his time doing it. Unlike some writers who feel like they have to give the reader everything all at once, often resorting to a lot of exposition to do it, Boucher is working the elements of his world into a balancing act, doling out just enough to get us curious about where he’s going. Volume 1 introduced us to Bea, but didn’t really give much indication of why she was more than meets the eye. It was a definite “fish out of water” story, at first leading me to think that she was a city lass on her own and disoriented by the harsh world of the west. By the second volume, Boucher seemed to have a bit of steam built up and was ready to kick things into gear.
Also in the second volume, the art took a bounding jump forward in my opinion. I’m not saying that the art in volume 1 was bad, it just didn’t work as well for me. This book, however, is upholding the black & white format, but has a much more polished look to it. Both Justin Ayers & James Stone use more of a minimalist style, but they’ve got a good use of panel arrangements & angles to keep it all interesting. What I thought was an especially nice touch was in their character designs… In keeping with a sort of “Spaghetti Western” theme, their version of the West wasn’t solely populated by beautiful people.
I’m interested in seeing where this title goes from here, if Greg Boucher and company are going to continue building up a world where their stories & characters continue to intersect. For now, what’s been done is enough to suck me in. Fans of shows like Wild, Wild West & The Adventures of Briscoe County Jr should be able to find something in this title to scratch an itch.
Final Score: 9/13