In the early 1970s, Ethel Grady Lane returns to her hometown of Sweetheart, Arizona. She has one thing on her mind: killing the man who murdered her family. But first, she’ll have to find him. As Ethel navigates the eccentric town and its inhabitants, she learns that the quaint veneer hides a brewing darkness. She has no choice but to descend into a ring of depravity and violence. Her only ally is an Old West novel that follows famed gunslinger Solomon Eaton. As Undone By Blood Or The Shadow Of A Wanted Man #1 unfolds, a love of fiction informs choices in reality, for better or worse.
I didn’t know what to expect when I opened the lengthily titled debut. I’ll shorten the title to UbBotSoaWM going forward because I really don’t want to keep typing that out. Written by the duo of Lonnie Nadler and Zac B. Thompson and brought to life by artist Sami Kivela, colorist Jason Wordie and letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, the comic uses the Old West novel as a story within a story. That mirrors the journey Ethel is taking -though not literally.
The comic opens on the third chapter of the novel, which threw me off for a hot second as I wondered if UbBotSoaWM #1 was a sequel of sorts to another project that Nadler and Thompson had worked together on in the past. Although I did realize what was going on, the comic never quite let me get my footing while reading it. Every teased moment of Ethel’s history and Solomon’s story seemed to hit just as I was getting comfortable in the comic. It was a refreshing and entirely unexpected experience when reading a book I had no expectation of reading. Honestly, I picked it up after a conversation about lengthy names on movies, books, etc and whether they’re detrimental to the success of said media. I don’t think they are so long as it’s an accurate title – but the timing was too perfect for me.
I’m glad that I did get this book.
Kivela and Wordie produce a visual style that is very consistent throughout the book, but the use of color and a more sepia tone allows you to differentiate between the novel and the real events pretty easily. If you don’t catch that, though, Otsmane-Elhaou’s lettering takes the form of excerpts from the novel. It’s a nice touch, and one I had to make a point of mentioning because I find too often good lettering isn’t noticed. More often than not you notice when it’s bad.
Undone By Blood Or The Shadow Of A Wanted Man #1 uses the two stories to mirror each other. It fills in missing details from Sol’s story with what you’re seeing in Ethel’s. They aren’t explicitly stated and you need to pay attention, but the hints are there if you pay attention. Speaking of paying attention, part of me wonders if the villain in Sol’s story is named after a writer of the same name? Thompson and he are from roughly the same area in eastern Canada. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the nod. It could also be a coincidence because the name does fit the time period very well, too.
I didn’t expect to read this comic, honestly, but I am happy that I did. The use of the two tales to highlight and emphasize aspects of the other is a nice touch and I’m a big fan of the visual presentation that left me feeling as though I was on location. I’ll be back for issue two. You should, as well.
Story: Lonnie Nadler and Zac B. Thompson Art: Sami Kivela
Colors: Jason Wordie Letters: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy
Aftershock provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review