THE WEST WAS LOST, a web comic written by wife and husband team Beth A. Dillon (Anishinaabe, Metis, Irish) and Myron A. Lameman (Beaver Lake Cree Nation) brings a new genre to comic books--Native Steampunk.
The cold north wind brings with it chaos and harsh reality when decisions are made by Nezette, who leads members of the Sovereign to rid the west of the intruding Zhaagnaash people by putting flame to oil. Nezette must confront her worst enemy: the temptation of Windigo in herself.
The West Was Lost is edited by Andrew Foley with art by Frank Grau Jr., a collaboration sponsored by social media group Zeros 2 Heroes (http://www.zeros2heroes.com/) and the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (http://www.aptn.ca/) after Beth's script and concept work won a community-based contest in June 2008.
Rob's review: On the positive side, the story focuses on a group of Native characters, including a strong female leader. Apparently the Indians have inherited the Earth and will be our heroes and guides in this series. They use cultural terms and references frequently, so the storytelling has an authentic sheen to it. There are no blatant stereotypes; the Indians are dressed simply in standard Western clothes.
On the negative side, I could barely follow the story. In fact, I couldn't tell if it was one complete story, a teaser for a longer story, or a semi-random selection of pages. The story is almost wordless and it suffers for it. The comic could've used perhaps 5-10 times more exposition.
I guess the discontinuities I sensed were from flashbacks or flash-forwards. Unexpected wordless transitions aren't a great idea in the first few pages of a new series. When readers don't know the characters and have no idea what's going on, they can get lost easily.
The plot, more or less
What I gleaned from THE WEST WAS LOST is this: The story is set in some alternative world in the past or future where oil is rare and trains run on water. A group of Indians has left their home somewhere in the northeast and traveled somewhere west. They may or may not be citizens of the Sovereign, which may or may not be a Native nation and may or may not be the only organized power left.
As the story opens, these Indians are visiting or living in a small Western town. They're attacked by zombie-like white people. These pseudo-zombies may or may not be the only non-Indians remaining. They may or may not be windigos--i.e., people possessed by evil spirits. The town goes up in flames, people flee, and our heroine sees a zombie-like image of herself. Has a windigo possessed her also?
If it sounds as though I'm unsure what's going on, I am. This is like an unfinished, storyboard version of the comic. Now that the art is complete, fill in the missing words, people, so we can understand what's going on.
For more on the subject, see Comic Books Featuring Indians.