August 13, 2009

Review of REDLAW

REDLAW: COMANCHE BOUNTY HUNTER is a curious comic book. Although only one issue came out in 1991 (I think), it's worth a look.

The comic features Redlaw, an ornery Indian in a floppy felt hat and a vest who hunts only white men. Redlaw is your classic Western hero: not prone to talk much, but smarter, tougher, and faster than anyone else.

The issue includes three stories:

1) Redlaw hunts the outlaws who kill a Navajo in a suit on a stagecoach.

2) Redlaw accompanies Sioux Indians who plan to trade a Gatling gun for captives held at a fort.

3) Redlaw meets Wild Bill Hickok soon before Hickok is killed.

Perhaps the best part of REDLAW is that it offers fresh looks at Indians in its three tales. In the first story, the most civilized person is the Indian "dude" with a toy pistol for his son. In the second, the old chief says he went to the fort voluntarily to learn the white man's ways.

Each story also manages to make the point that Redlaw isn't a generic Indian or a member of the same tribe as the others. He may be slightly sympathetic to his fellow Indians, but he doesn't trust them or think of them as "brothers." He's an individual, basically, not a type.

The downside

REDLAW isn't without flaws. The action is more or less standard for a Western comic. The black-and-white art is inked too heavily and sometimes looks crude. The hand-drawn lettering is unappealing.

REDLAW also contains a preview of THE KILLER OF CROWS #1. I guess this comic came out in 1991 too, although I've never seen it. As a website describes it:This is the story of John Johnson, better known by the movie title of Jeremiah Johnson. He was called Dapiek Absaroka, the Killer of Crows, for the vendetta that existed between him and the Crow Indians.The preview's art is superior to the art in the rest of REDLAW. Though told clearly, the story seems stereotypical. Blackfoot Indians kill a woman's family for no reason...and three pages later, Crow Indians kill Johnson's family for no reason. Unmentioned is the alleged fact that the Crow retaliated only after Johnson led Army troops through a Crow burial ground.

All in all, REDLAW is an interesting comic: four stories, 28 pages, several different takes on Indians. Since you can find it online for under $2.00 (excluding shipping), fans of Native-themed comics should check it out.

For more on the subject, see Comic Books Featuring Indians.

No comments: