cover image THE LONG HAUL


Antony Johnston, . . Oni Press, $14.95 (152pp) ISBN 978-1-932664-05-8

Johnston and Barretto offer proof positive that westerns haven't yet given up the ghost, offering a hybrid of horse opera and caper film that's a solidly entertaining page-turner. Bank robber Cody Plummer has returned to society after a seven-year stretch in the hoosegow. When the opportunity to snatch a train shipment of $19 million in cash comes up, Plummer sets out to commit an impossible heist. The train is fortified with period-plausible safeguards such as 14 heavily armed guards and Pinkerton agents (led by the man who sent Plummer up the river), regularly scheduled telegraph security protocols and triple-thickness steel barriers for the safe car. Daunting obstacles all, but to a brilliant criminal strategist like Plummer they present both an intriguing challenge and a chance for get-him-where-it-hurts vengeance against his former pursuer. Assembling a team of specialists that resembles John Ford's answer to Ocean's Eleven , Plummer and his cohorts launch a nail-biting assault on the train, resulting in a blend of smooth planning and execution coupled with ticking-clock suspense that will keep readers entranced. Johnston's script is tight, with no wasted words, and Barretto's clean Joe Kubert–inspired visual storytelling communicates like a movie on paper, making this a must for western fans and definitely worth a look for the casual comics enthusiast. (Mar.)