Written by Guest Contributor: Jordan North To Hell You Ride is so damn good. Plot, Characters, paneling, art (oh the art!) and soul come together to form something that, after reading just four issues, I know I’ll be thinking about and recommending to people for a long, long time.
A pessimistic and cautionary tale of returning to old and simple ways at its heart, To Hell You Ride is the story of Two-Dogs, a Native American nobody living in a town full of people just like him... until one faithful day of course. And that’s where our story starts. One spiritually awakened deadbeat and a gaggle of malicious Brave spirits (Watchers) and you have a full-blown spiritual war on your hands.
Let me just say, the storytelling here is astounding. Henriksen and Maddrey do things that are so original and interesting, melding together classical Native American folklore with an all too resonating tale of directionless living in small town America. Combine that with an interesting hero in Two-Dogs who, in a few issues, goes from drunken loser into a gnarly pacifist monk. The story also follows a few other characters and their B-plots, but overall this is a story about how people--all of them-- can get caught up in themselves and a warning against weakness of the mind, the spirit and the egotistical corruption of that which the world and god/nature in a sense, provide you.
Outside of the grand scheme of things little details here and there light this world up, particularly the art. I’m not overly familiar with the other work of Mandrake but I have to say WOW! This man has a name for a reason. Everything is wonderful. Paneling is dynamic and exciting. Characters have facial expressions that let you really feel what’s going on with them and maybe most importantly this small town in Colorado feels like a real place filled with real people, hell, it even has its own fictional brand of cigarettes. To cap it all off these books feature some of the nastiest gore panels I’ve ever seen in a comic. The spirits, whose killing method essentially amounts to melting their victim’s flesh into soup, leave some of the grossest corpses I’ve ever seen on a page. The amount of exposed eyeballs alone in these pages will haunt you.
In this issue the town goes all to shit as CDC black ops squads arrive to impose quarantine on a town that they expect is infected with some sort of virus. If only they knew. Cue infighting and riots. This issue though really seems to be about showing our hero becoming just that. Two-Dogs embraces and elevates himself here, stopping a potential race war and saving the soul of a lost Indian brother all before sunup. Shipps the Sheriff gets to shine a bit too, popping some of the Blackwash soldiers and helping to save the town. In the end one of the soldiers actually sees a Watcher via infrared and dies as a result. I’m really excited by the possibilities of that and watching a potentially “war on all sides” type deal play out.
This book is a testament to what can happen when you put veterans in the industry together and let them go nuts. Damn near pitch perfect, beautiful and intriguing work and masterful storytelling. Rare is it that I have come across something so original and it’s for good reason—every book simply couldn’t be this good-- but, when stars align and the comic gods are pleased you will occasionally get something that it would be irresponsible to miss. This is that comic book.
Writer: Lance Henriksen and Joseph Maddrey Artist: Tom Mandrake Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 5/15/13