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Gunland - Book Review

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by Jennifer Muirhead (subscribe)
I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma. ~ Eartha Kitt
Published July 8th 2020
Portals, pistols and pterodactyls
Gunland, graphic novel, comic, Gunland Volume 1

The notorious Doolin brothers, Dan, Dave and Duke, are on the run from the law, trying to lie low until it's safe to recover the loot stashed from their previous crimes. When an officer of the law shows up to claim the bounty on the three of them a massacre ensues, claiming the lives of Duke and the bartender. The killings are blamed on Dave's newly adopted daughter, who is a surprisingly good shot, despite appearing to be about seven years old.

Each of the brothers owns a skull from a dead warrior, relics passed down to them from their father, which give them special powers- Dave is now apparently immortal and Dan can open portals through time and space. Dave wants the money and to escape the gallows, while Dan wants to flee with his daughter and his old friend Meme, an alien bounty hunter. It won't be easy, with both the law and other bounty hunters on their trail.

Gunland, Captain Artiligo, comics, weird comics, cowboys and dinosaurs

, by Captain Artiglio, is a bizarre comic that combines a Spaghetti Western with cowboys, dinosaurs, and aliens. The setting is never fully explained, the reader is just flung into this strange world (an alternate earth or another planet, I never worked out which), where bounty hunters and outlaws ride dinosaurs, and there are both cyborgs and magical artifacts. Both the art and the text are full of weird little details, like Pokemon toys, what seems to be one of the Sphinx statues from The Neverending Story, and Dave's paraphrasing of a Nick Cave song, leaving the reader constantly wondering where and when all this is happening.

Gunland, comics, Graphic novel, cowboys and dinosaurs
The Girl With No Name and her Carnotaur.

I'm not keen on the way the humans and humanoid characters were drawn, with their odd-looking noses, but the dinosaurs are top-notch, and I loved the use of colour and the mixture of Western and exotic architecture. Also, refreshingly, none of the female characters were drawn in an unnecessarily sexualised way. The story is a pretty standard Western, with the weirdness of the magic and ancient space vampires etc. laid over the top. There are most of the tropes you'd expect; gunfights, a saloon scene and people out for revenge or to make a name for themselves as outlaws. There are also lots of questions left unanswered, such as what is going on with the portals, which I hope will be explored in a later volume if the series keeps going.

Gunland is a fun, chaotic romp that will probably appeal to fans of equally crazy comics like Tank Girl.

Disclaimer: I was given a complimentary copy of this book by Diamond Book Distributors, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Published: July 28, 2020
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