cover image The Shaolin Cowboy: Who’ll Stop the Reign?

The Shaolin Cowboy: Who’ll Stop the Reign?

Geof Darrow. Dark Horse, $19.99 (128p) ISBN 978-1-5067-0365-7

Completing an absurdist comics saga that appeared irregularly from 2004 to 2007, this handsome volume opens with a taciturn Buddhist monk in cowboy togs, waking up in the American desert amidst a sprawl of zombie corpses. He ritually repairs his injured body with his mystic Shaolin skills, guided by visions of a prophetlike elderly sage. Staggering forward, he then travels into the nearby town to fight a giant pig and a mind-controlling king crab. The “plot,” such as it is, doesn’t especially matter, since the sequence of action exists simply to get the cowboy out of one outlandish situation and into another, in order to allow Darrow to create his trademark hyperdetailed, ultraviolent panoramas. The artist’s sui generis imagination results in fantastical sequences such as the two-and-a-half pages in which the antihero smashes his way through a mob of enemies by swinging two dogs by their tails, while gouts of blood float through the air. This grotesque, over-the-top adventure will delight fans of a particular brand of witty gore; others might cringe while still appreciating the impeccably designed and executed art. (Nov.)