Cowboys & Aliens
by Fred Van Lente, Andrew Foley, Luciano Lima
(Image/Platinum, 2006; It, 2011)

Being a fan of well-done western and science-fiction comics, I immediately recognize that a combination of the two genres is not a natural. I also know my curiosity about such an undertaking certainly is. Thus, I felt compelled to investigate creator Scott Mitchell Rosenberg's Cowboys & Aliens. You should as well.

The scenario is straightforward; alien invasion during the days of the Wild West. The concept itself is enough to stoke the interest of many readers, I should think. And, thankfully, the creators weren't content simply to rest on an unusual idea.

Writers Fred Van Lente and Andrew Foley introduce us to Zeke and Miss Verity, a couple of range riders hired to safeguard a wagon train to Silver City across hostile Apache territory. Enter a crash-landing alien vessel and a hostile band of extraterrestrials. The result: The need for cowboys and Indians to not just get along, but ally themselves with one another in order to save the Earth from being enslaved.

Characterization is the strong suit in this story. I especially enjoyed the writers' portrayal of the Apache. Their interaction with each other, as well as the "white man," is entertaining and believable. Most admirable, however, is their reaction to a first encounter with aliens.

No bowing and scraping to the gods of the stars here. The Apache are portrayed as an intelligent, sophisticated race who approach the invaders as just another strange group of people. "I doubt they speak Apache. Maybe the white man's tongue." A refreshing alternative to the all-to-common view of the "noble savage," it more than makes up for a romance between Zeke and an alien female that seems a little ... forced.

Combine a fun story with the bold lines and clear, expressive style of artist Luciano Lima, with assists by Magic Eye studios, and you have an all-around entertaining venture. Cowboys & Aliens is highly recommended.

by Mark Allen
16 June 2007

It's not often I'll say this, but so far as Cowboys & Aliens is concerned, the movie exceeds the source material.

By quite a lot.

The original graphic novel -- created by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, written by Andrew Foley and Fred Van Lente and penciled by Luciano Lima -- has only the barest connection to the hit movie starring Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford. The characters aren't the same. The action progresses along very different paths.

At their hearts, both stories are about an alien invasion in the Old West. There, the resemblance ends.

The graphic novel is, for one thing, far preachier, laying its sermon about the white man's conquest of Native Americans on a little thick. Yeah, yeah, we get it, it sucks when someone comes along with better weapons who wants to take your land. Ironic, eh, that those self-same white men are then confounded by the superior technology of space-faring aliens! Eh? Get it?

The story lacks any real character development. The action is hastily conceived and resolved. The art is fair to middlin', but unremarkable.

Fortunately, someone saw this book -- or at least its title -- and thought, "Hey, cowboys and aliens? That could be a cool movie!"

by Tom Knapp
27 August 2011

Read Tom's review of Cowboys & Aliens, the movie version, here.


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