Most second issues slow down the action a little bit, pausing to do some world-building now that the premise has been established. But not this issue of Kingsway West; if anything, there’s more action than what we saw in the first issue. While the ending of the issue is a bit confusing, we do get to try and understand more about the United States of New York and what its goals are in the wilds of California. All in all, it works, especially given how short the issue feels. Warning: I will be discussing some spoilers.
Kingsway flashes back on a day with his wife and his admissions about the lives he took during the war. That promise to never kill again has unfortunately been broken in the present day as he guns down a number of soldiers to save Toy. Kingsway doesn’t care for her mission but needs to find his wife, and they ride off, quasi-partners of convenience. Elsewhere, Strode and the U.S. soldiers have caught up to Kingsway, searching for that mountain of Red Gold they need to keep working.
One thing I definitely appreciated was Sonia’s reaction to Kingsway’s confession of his various wartime sins. It always feels like the typical western shows either the defiled woman rescued by a man, or a virtuous woman redeeming a fallen man. But Sonia is more complicated than a pure savior; she makes clear that she killed people when she didn’t need to, and she didn’t kill them in a merciful or easy way. They’re both morally complicated and just trying to find some peace in a place that has none. This is mirrored by Kingsway's utter willingness to abandon Ah Toy; he simply doesn’t care about her mission. He’s not some hesitant hero waiting to be made into a good guy; he’s just a man looking for his wife, burdened with the questionable gift of being a fantastic killer.
Likewise, Strode’s character is intriguing. Presumably, a former slave enlisted by the Union to help fight the Confederacy (which we learn a little bit about in this issue), she’s treated as a tool by her former employers. But she’s trapped by her own wings (itself a powerful symbol, given all of the stories told by slaves about growing wings and escaping), which can’t be sustained without Red Gold. Pak hit on an interesting way to reinvent the Buffalo Soldier for this timeline in a way that still feels relevant with our history.
With all of those good things in mind, I must say I really have no idea what the ending of this issue was all about. Was Sonia’s appearance a vision, or is it connected to Toy in some way? Was it just a hallucination brought on by his wounds? Was Toy supposed to be connected to Sonia’s disappearance in some way, and has she been playing a larger game? Or was it just unclear writing? I guess we’ll find out soon enough.
[su_box title="Score: 3/5" style="glass" box_color="#8955ab" radius="6"]
Kingsway West #2
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Mirko Colak and Wil Quintana
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Format: Miniseries; Print/Digital