Clearwater, AZ. 1914. Things are changing in the West, but not every one is happy about it. Your Major Spoilers review of Gunhawks #1 awaits!
Writer: David & Maria Lapham
Artist: Luca Pizzari
Colorist: Neeraj Menon & Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Editor: Jake Thomas
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: February 6, 2019
Previously in Gunhawks: In the days of the Old West there were plenty of fearsome folk… cowboys, rustlers, lawmen and outlaws…but few were as fearsome as THE GUNHAWKS!
THE BALLAD OF DEADMAN DONNELLY
Just outside the town of Clearwater, Sheriff Dean Donnelly has met up with a group of neer-do-wells from south of the border, questioning them about their intentions. The desperadoes inform him that they’ve come on a mission of revenge, calling him by his old name: Deadman Donnelly. Gunfire is exchanged, and one of the bad folks goes down, but Donnelly takes a bullet in the shoulder for his trouble. Returning to town, he prepares his deputies for war and desperately tries to find his lady-love, Colleen. Donnelly finds her at their ranch and tells her the real story of his work in Mexico with Pancho Villas raiders, explaining that these gunhawks have come to find him. Returning to town, Deadman Donnelly faces down an army of outlaws, meeting their leader one-on-one before finding out that one’s past cannot be outrun…
STRIKES THE PERFECT TONE
This issue’s story reminds me of modern westerns like ‘Unforgiven’, taking place as it does well after the apex of the cowboy way, but still working with the classic tropes. The Laphams’ story here is tragic, as Deadman Donnelly thought that his past could never catch up with him, ending with an unexpectedly touching sequence featuring literal buckets of blood. The art is also quite solid, with the haunting face of Colleen as she screams for her lost love will stick with a reader well after the books is closed. There is a slight downside for me, in that this book has nothing to do with the previous Marvel ‘Gunhawks’ series, but that’s a relatively minor concern in the grand scheme of things. All in all, this is a story about the end of the era of the Old West, about civiliization taking over what was once the purview of outlaws, masked vigilantes and their mighty steeds, and it works well in that regard.
BOTTOM LINE: A GOOD READ
In short, Gunhawks #1 serves as a bookend to the era of Marvel Westerns long gone, with a haunting, effective story paired with strong art for a rare reading experience, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall. As a celebration of 80 years of Marvel, it’s a a great tribute to a genre of comic book that you just don’t get to see anymore.
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It's a classic Western story with blood, guts, action and a lost love, all wrapped around the fundamental question of whether man can change. Good stuff.