By Patrick Wolf
Tired of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and Billy the Kid? Looking for a Western hero whose more than just quick to the draw? Crow Jane is a new Western series that’s more than just the traditional take on the Western drama. With supernatural elements interspersed throughout the narrative, Crow Jane makes for an exciting read with plenty of guts and gore to spare. This is certainly a series that will appeal to the Western aficionado looking for something different.
After being callously murdered by her fiancé, Crow Jane rises back from the dead with a vendetta for the man who hired her killer. Now, she stalks the western world as an immoral bounty hunter eager to take out the bad guys—at the right price. But, with new information on the man who hired her original killer, Crow Jane now needs the help of an old man guarded by the notorious Royce Boys. Does she have what it takes to defeat some of the most ruthless men in town?
Normally when I’m handed a series that’s literally done by one guy, I’m in for some serious imbalances: either the art’s amazing and the story sucks, or the story rocks but the writing’s horrendous, or the writings awesome but the lettering’s a disaster. You get the picture. In this case, however, Robinson seems to be equally talented in all avenues. The stories were well written and packed with tons of gory action; the artwork’s beautifully rendered and in-line with the narrative’s genre; and the other elements of the book, such as its lettering and editing, are done very nicely as well.
The only criticism I have for this franchise is that Jane is too powerful. I don’t know if there’s going to be a twist later in the series, but as of yet, Jane’s pretty much immortal. Throughout issues #0 & 1, she’s been killed at least ten times, and each time she’s come back faster than you can reload your six-shooter. Now, while the power of immortality makes for some fun, gory action scenes, its downside is it takes away from the story’s suspense. Each time Jane bites the bullet, you feel less-and-less afraid for her since you know she’ll just come right back.
Now, Jane’s not the only contemporary hero with the power of immortality: Superman and Spawn also come to mind when thinking of this ability. The difference between these guys and Jane, however, is that they have real, palpable weaknesses: Superman has his kryptonite and Spawn has a limited supply of magic (once his magic runs out, he’ll go back to hell). Jane, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have a weakness. She just can’t die. Comparing her to Wolverine also doesn’t help, since Wolverine’s immortality is contrasted with the other mutant powers in the X-Men universe. Jane doesn’t face super-powered villains whose abilities can offset her immortality. She’s facing off against normal guys with guns.
Another issue related to Jane’s lack of a physical weakness is her lack of a spiritual weakness. Jane’s pretty much the perfect person. She’s brave, strong, kind, compassionate, resolute, and loyal. Now, while these qualities certainly make her likable, they don’t make her loveable. There’s just something about a weakness in personality that makes us relate to the character on a whole other level. I’m not saying Jane needs to be bad or selfish or whatever. I’m just saying she needs to have some sort of internal struggle that will compliment her external vendetta and help the reader identify with her even more.
With that in mind, we’re just two issues (#0 & 1) into the series, so I’m being more than a tad unfair in asking for substantial weaknesses from the narrative’s main character. So far, Robinson has done an amazing job, and this is one of the better Western’s out there. Coming into this series, I wasn’t expecting a whole lot, so I was pleasantly surprised in finding a franchise worth reading. I’ll definitely be back for issue #2, and I’d advise any fan of the Western genre to check this series out.
Crow Jane #0 & 1
Writer/Artist: Jeremy Vaughn Robinson
Publisher: Panel Pirates