Writers: Bill Tortolini & Andrew LoVuolo
Artist: Abdul Rashid
Publisher: Dabel Brothers Productions
One of the great joys of being a comic book reviewer is finding that diamond in the rough, a comic no one has heard of from a company other than Marvel and DC. Believe me, most of the time I come up with foolís gold, titles that sound great in the Previews but donít have much steam or imagination to keep them afloat. However, there are times when Iím really impressed by a small press work simply by the effort of the creators and the ambitions of the material. Marshal #1 is one of those works. From the great looking cover by Abdul Rashid through the solid final panel, this is an entertaining issue that gives me great hopes for the remainder of this mini-series. No, you are not going to find cerebral analyses of various sci-fi or fantasy conventions, but you will receive a great Western-in-space tale that has plenty of meat on its bones. In short, Marshal has the proper mentality for a four issue series about interplanetary cowboys: Keep It Simple, Stupid!
Curtis Masters is a young man on a mission of vengeance, looking for those responsible for his fatherís death, who was the last marshal of planet Tranquility. How can there be only one marshal for the whole planet? Well, thatís just nitpicking on my part (Remember, Robert: KISS!). Anyway, Curtis decides to take up his fatherís mantle as the marshal (or Marshal, if you wish) and take down the corrupt elements of the Merkaid Corporation, who control just about everything on Tranquility. Yes, it does sound a little derivative, but trust me, this is entertaining stuff! Masters is a combination of the Man With No Name, Batman, and Captain Mal Reynolds, and these attributes make for an interesting main character. This is a man who has conditioned his adult life for violence, and he isnít looking to follow the typical Western conventions set up by Hollywood. Marshal has no qualms about shooting people in the back, pulling a gun on a woman, or holding someone hostage. John Wayne he ainít! However, in this violent world with high-tech weapons and a ďkill first, ask questions laterĒ mentality, John Wayne would have lasted about five seconds. Bill Tortolini & Andrew LoVuolo donít take up a lot of our time with background, throwing us right into the story as Marshal takes on thugs and meets up with the lovely yet dangerous Fawn. The dialogue felt stilted and mannered at times, but these instances werenít enough to ruin my overall appreciation of Tortolini and LoVuoloís work. Marshal #1 is cover to cover action with just a few pauses to catch your breath.
As for the art, I think Abdul Rashid does a fantastic job displaying the action throughout, adding some unique style to this sci-fi tale. The world he has visualized resembles Yasuhiro Nightowís Trigun in some ways, including the main character, who could be confused for a dark-haired Vash the Stampede. The characters throughout are very expressive in the face, and the entire issue flows well from panel to panel. All in all, this is a fine display of artwork by Mr. Rashid, and I was very impressed by his overall work. This, combined with the effective story by Tortolini and LoVuolo, makes this a quality comic book that you shouldnít miss. This is the second title I have read produced by Dabel Brothers (the first being Orson Scott Cardís Red Prophet), and I have been impressed by both books. DB looks like a company interested in the quality of their titles, and I hope that this focus will lead to great successes in their future.
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