cover image Refuge


Bill Campbell and Louis Netter. Rosarium, $19.95 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-0-57839-153-3

This overwrought weird western from Campbell (The Day the Klan Came to Town) attempts to deconstruct the many threats and slim opportunities afforded Black and Indigenous people in the Old West through the tale of the town of Refuge, a haven for persecuted Black Seminoles in Indian Territory (modern-day Oklahoma). War-weary sheriff Desi Leans and his straight-talking deputy, Gay Day, contend with the trouble brewing when Refuge’s opportunistic mayor promotes the town as a sanctuary for the displaced. A notorious band of former Buffalo Soldiers answer his call, but arrive loyal to a shady preacher named Prester John. Their vices run afoul of Gay and fellow townswomen including the saloon keeper and her resident working girls—who lend a supernatural twist to the third act. Themes of trauma (from war and slavery) run throughout, but the overall arc ends up predictable. Artist Netter effectively sketches a haggard cast, tested by the brutal West, but similar facial characteristics make it hard to distinguish among a packed cast. There’s gold buried in these storytelling conceits, but while entertaining, this venture doesn’t unearth much treasure. (Feb.)