A great kickoff, the themes and nonlinear storytelling in To Hell You Ride #1 are unified in beautiful sweeping style. Actor Lance Henricksen’s first turn at comic writing will leave a lasting impression with his revenge/western horror hybrid. Lance Henriksen’s comics debut doesn’t disappoint and should not be missed.
WRITTEN BY: Lance Henriksen, Joseph Maddrey
ART BY: Tom Mandrake
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse Comics
RELEASE: December 12, 2012
After a sacred burial ground is disturbed, a deadly curse is set into motion in a small town. The townspeople feel the wrath of the angry spirits as their skin begins to burn and flesh melts off their bones. Feeling betrayed by his heritage and his community, Two Dogs ends up on a long and bitter drinking binge. When he sobers up, Two Dogs discovers the horrid truths of the past.
What makes the story interesting is how Henriksen and Maddrey provide their character with a back-story. Because he is well-developed, readers understand why Two Dogs, the outsider and working class stiff, is so angry at the world. Because he is a disappointment to the community, Two Dogs has to think about why he should bother saving the corrupt town. What’s impressive about the storytelling is that the opening pages do not have any dialogue whatsoever, just captions to follow along with Tom Mandrake’s art.
As the narrative jumps in time, the three subplots are interconnected through family lineage. In the past, the tribal warrior sacrifices his life to save his people, but his death brings forth a vengeful spirit. In the present, the sheriff needs Five George to help him solve the case of a missing girl. All the lies and crimes of the past have been building up to Two Dogs’ discovery of the truth. The complex narrative is used to display the clear cause and effect relationship between the timelines, and it makes the story feel that much larger.
The artwork by Tom Mandrake is unbelievably eye-catching. Because Henriksen is known for his movie roles such as Aliens, there is a heavy focus on facial expressions. Mandrake wants readers to see the performance captured within the narration. In Two Dogs’ introduction, Mandrake gives a lot of attention to his posture to show his anger and frustration. The close-ups are incredibly expressive as Two Dogs comes across as angry, spiteful, and indifferent all at the same time.
Mandrake manages to ground the mysticism and spirituality of the story without letting it fly over the top. In the background, notice how the face of the mountain resembles Five George. When the story heads into the direction of the supernatural, the panels are illuminated with bright tones. In a large panel, Mandrake captures the majestic beauty of the desert in the nighttime, with a shooting star in the sky. For readers to understand the nonlinear storytelling, Mandrake does an excellent job distinguishing the different time periods.
An ambitious effort, that hooked me into the Colorado scenery and the Native American culture of “To Hell You Ride” #1. This is an impressive debut. If the writing and artwork continue on this road, “To Hell You Ride” will be a definite hit.
Reviewed by – Jorge Solis