cover image The Shaolin Cowboy Adventure Magazine

The Shaolin Cowboy Adventure Magazine

Andrew Vachss, Geoff Darrow, Michael A. Black, and Gary Gianni. Dark Horse, $15.99 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-61655-056-1

As written and drawn by Darrow, with input from the Wachowskis, the Shaolin Cowboy comic was a kinetic tour de force, full of violent humor and cinematic fury. If you’re seeking that with this one-shot tribute to pulp novels, you’re in for a disappointment. Crime author Vachss presents an extended, though severely episodic, adventure for the cowboy and tries to retain the comic’s tone. Except for patches of cleverness, it never coalesces into a tight enough package, and sometimes descends into tedium. Vachss attempts to represent the original instead of transforming his prose version into its own thing. The result is a manuscript that seems more like a script to a comic book that was never drawn and less like a novel with its own voice and merits. Action and humor lurk in Vachss’s text, but never leap out of the book. Darrow’s illustrations are fine, but don’t capture what the text lacks. Black’s unrelated backup story is better suited to the form, but this pulp revival flatlines fast. (Nov.)