Title: Deadlands: Dead Man’s Hand Vol. 1
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writers: David Galleher (The Devil’s Six Gun), Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray (Massacre at Red Wing), Ron Marz (Death was Silent), and Jeff Mariotte (Black Water)
Artist: Steve Ellis (The Devil’s Six Gun), Lee Moder (Massacre at Red Wing), Bart Sears (Death was Silent), and Brook Turner (Black Water)
Colorist: Michael Atiyeh
Letterer: Troy Peteri
Cover: Jacob Bascle
I will admit that I was never into westerns and steam punk; as a genre that does not interest me. I don’t consider myself a huge gamer and I only played one RPG in my entire life. Deadlands: Dead Hand’s Man is not something that I would immediately pick up. One thing I learned as a life long comic fan is that you should never judge a book by its cover. This trade paper back has several stories written and drawn by several artists from various companies. It allows readers to find more material written by new and established writers and artists than they may otherwise be familiar with.
Let’s be honest, there are several RPGs where many publishing companies have attempted to produce some stories that have failed. Deadlands does not seem that way. Deadlands seems like a wonderful place to write stories from. IDW does a great job at putting out some great stories from movie and TV franchises. They take risks that pay off. They do the same with Deadlands.
My favorite has to be Death was Silent. In this tale, the protagonist is a mute Ranger whose job is to destroy plant beings posing as humans. He communicates through a chalk board that writes the Ranger’s ideas via telepathy. This makes the protagonist as scary as his prey. His mission is to wipe out an entire town of these plant beings with the help of a zombie like creature. This story really turns the idea of a zombie on its head. The action is intense and the artwork by Bart Sears really conveys the intensity and the chaos of this massacre.
Massacre at Red Wing is another wonderful story featuring Clementime, a young Native American woman who possesses a deadly magical power. She is also a master at bladed weapons. She is on a quest to find her mother and kill her father. This mission forces her to encounter people who see her as a slave and a subhuman. She is merciless. She is a very interesting character and I hope to see more stories about her.
Devil’s Six Gun is about Copernicus Blackburne. He is a world-renowned inventor and invented many of the weapons found throughout Deadlands. He is hired by a mysterious and elusive inventor to figure out how to tap into Ghost Rock, a mineral that is powerful than any other. Blackburne who is a loving family man becomes obsessed with this endeavor. Slowly he loses interest in his loving family and risks all to discover the secrets of Ghost Rock. Eventually, his obsessions devours his soul and he turns against his benefactor.
My only gripe is the artwork. At some points the breakdowns are lackluster. In some panels the artwork is confusing. One cannot tell which character is speaking or who is being removed from the story. There are moments when the action is confusing. The paneling is not sequenced properly and adds to the confusion.
Overall, Deadlands is a good investment. There is something for everyone. Whether you are a fan of the Deadlands RPG or someone who is unfamiliar with the continuity, you might find something in this series. It might not make you pick up the RPG books or take up Steam Punk cosplaying, but it will introduce you to some decent writers and artists along the way.