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Western By Van Hamme And Rosinski - Comic Review

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French publisher brings the wild west to vivid life

WRITER : Jean Van Hamme

ARTIST : Grzegorz Rosinski

PUBLISHER : Cinebook

OUT : Now

First published in 2001, Cinebook’s latest French reprint is a low-key classic. Artist Rosinksi and writer Van Hamme – also the creators of the mega-selling Thorgal, about an alien brought up by Vikings – is both a gorgeously rendered account of life in the Old West and a haunting encapsulation of the mythic qualities of, well, the Western.

The simplicity of the book’s title says it all. It’s about fate, and mythmaking, and the inability to escape the sins of the past, even in a land and time of possibilities. Young Nate Chisum falls foul of a scam hatched by his elder brother when he’s but a boy, and years later has become a one-armed wanderer who takes a job as a bank security guard.

Despite his handicap, he’s a crack shot, and his skill with a revolver soon establishes his reputation. But as his good fortune grows, he’s drawn inexorably back to the bad things in his past. We’re drawn full circle as Nate, passing himself off as someone else, is pulled back in to the orbit of the beautiful daughter of the man he killed when his brother’s scam failed spectacularly. The heart wants what the heart wants, and it’s this that proves to be Nate’s ultimate undoing.

From its sepia-tinged early section to the colder later stages of the story, Rosinski’s art captures the subject matter of the book perfectly. Studded throughout the story, too, are beautiful doublepage paintings that serve as snapshots of the Old West and complementary mood pieces. Western is the real deal, at once a tragic and glorious evocation of a time, a place and a genre that still hold the capacity to enthral.

Jes Bickham

Find this review and plenty more besides in the latest issue of Comic Heroes, on sale 26 August.

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