October 16, 2007

New low in Native comics

I thought a Native-themed comic couldn't get more bloody, violent, and pointless than Jason Aaron's RIPCLAW PILOT SEASON #1, but I was wrong. Jeffrey Nodelman's THE FOURTH HORSEMAN #1 is possibly the worst Native comic ever. In terms of pure savagery, it must be the worst. This comic makes RIPCLAW look like Shakespeare.

Here's the premise, such as it is:

Jeffrey Nodelman on The Fourth HorsemanNRAMA: The Fourth Horseman is the story of how the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse came together, right?

JN: Basically, this mini series is kind of the back-story to the movie we are producing… not necessarily a prequel, but, more history and information on the characters and how they met. To me, a prequel would only make sense in the context of the bigger story. These books can stand either alone or with the film. The overall plot follows the four riders of the Apocalypse. If you know your Bible, they are the ones that bring on the end of days. The Bible tells they are coming, but leaves out the specifics of when, where, and why. I give these answers a nice twist in the film, but, the books give each rider the individual attention such warped personalities require.

NRAMA: Which specific Horseman does the title refer to?

JN: The four riders in order are:

The White Rider who represents the False Messiah. Strong and handsome, he wears a crown, and carries a spear. He leads his people down the wrong path.

The Red Rider, who represents weapons of mass destruction, kills all with dramatic flare, shock and awe.

The Brown Rider represents disease and pestilence. He is the ultimate bottom feeder, and spreads the plague on mankind.

The Black Rider represents death.

For the book, the characters are: Bear (the White Rider), who is a great Indian warrior. Maggog (the Red Rider), a Chinese slave who escaped the railroads, and is a supreme martial artist. Prophet (the Brown Rider), who is just as badass as a cowboy can come. Lastly, Ezekiel (the Black Rider), who I won't get into now, but who is one hell of an anti-hero…pun intended.
The plot, such as it is, involves Bear killing everyone in the most brutal and graphic ways. We're talking a knife thrust through someone's face or tomahawk cleaving a skull in two. Even "critics" who rave about blood 'n' gore fests couldn't praise this one.

Wednesday Number Ones 8/15/07Oh, how to describe Fangoria’s newest series, The Fourth Horseman? I could say that it was a ho-hum outing, pock-marked with pages and pages of bloody and crude, over the top violence and a single sex scene. That may be the best way to describe it, and sometimes that sort of story is okay. Anyone who’s ever read the Punisher, or anything written by Garth Ennis for that matter, knows that this recipe could be done well. Here however, the end result is something that’s so far from good that it’s scary. Nodelman’s introduction of the first Horseman of the Apocalypse, the White Rider, is nothing more than seeing the character rip and tear and cleave his way through everyone in his way. Since this mini is about the riders of the Apocalypse, the mass carnage seems to make sense, but that’s all that’s being told here and it isn’t enough. Maybe in the next issue or two a more cohesive story will start to turn up, but right now there’s no hook for the reader to latch onto. Might be one to avoid.Might be one to avoid?! Yeah, and you also might want to avoid smallpox-laden blankets. You know, like the plague?

THE FOURTH HORSEMAN Issue #1The story centers around a warrior named “Bear”, and as to what kind of a warrior is still in question. I assume he’s an American Indian, but there’s no specific detail in that origin. He just kills everybody and everything in his path, for he is the “white horseman.” Kind of ironic with him being Indian, no? The writing needs work from Jeffrey Nodelman, exploring the character’s actions more along with his history and roots, specific to the culture Bear is related to.Exploring the character's history and roots?! Get serious. This is a pure exploitation comic that couldn't care less about genuine Indian lore. Nodelman will explore Bear's roots right after the Four Horsemen bring the Apocalypse, I'm sure.

How many ways does THE FOURTH HORSEMAN #1 fail? Let's see. Bear is a killing machine devoid of personality. He's a generic Indian with no history or culture. His people live in stereotypical teepees. The woman of his tribe are slender, sexy babes. He collects the scalps of his victims and proudly displays them.

The only positive thing I might say about THE FOURTH HORSEMAN #1 is that Bear's faux headdress--a crown of feathers mounted on a skull--looks kind of cool. But such a headdress is probably a violation of Native tradition and would offend many Natives, so even this is questionable. No, the comic has no redeeming value whatsoever. It's utter garbage.

No comments: