Scribbler’s Saga #23 – Guns a Blazin’!

Posted: March 29, 2017 in Uncategorized

© 2017 G.N. Jacobs

The pull quotes on independent comic series Guns a Blazin’ might go something like this…ah, never mind, why spoil the memory of a fun read with something as cheese-tastic as single word pull quote adjectives? Besides, even just thinking the words pull quote sparks an idea better hunted down and killed elsewhere, another observation for my as yet mythical Ideas post. 

So anyway, I buy, have signed and just now read the first four issues of Guns a Blazin’ following the haphazard time travel adventures of Eddie and Kody. I ended the reading session nearly busting a gut laughing. And I got caught looking at the various fictional ladies in this story for whom bikini defines daily attire. The point, I suppose and one I should expect from friends that grew up watching the same TV and movies as I did.

Indians attack a frontier fort. Blond haired Kody Willis, probably a cavalry scout from his civilian trail clothes including union-mandated duster, runs to wake up his buddy, Eddie. The dark haired man that looks so much like artist, Rafael Navarro, that I know I need to ask, just to save up for a bit of friendly teasing, wakes up. A quick scan of the horizon shows attacking Indians, no problem. Finishing the sweep puts several creatures of the large, hungry and really shouldn’t be in a Western tale variety firmly in the scope. If I had to guess, Rafael went for something like how Ralph Bakshi drew orcs for the first time around with The Lord of the Rings crossed with the Green Goblin. Even more worrisome than these troll-orcs, Eddie sees a familiar redhead in a metal bikini on a flying disk, Domina.

Eddie and Kody are forced to leave the fort to its fate especially after seeing the troll-orcs smash the old-timer manning the fort’s lone howitzer. Facial expressions tell the reader that Eddie and Domina have a bit of history of the ‘he went out for pizza taking her time machine with him’ sort. Thus begins four and soon to be five issues of a fun time travel story with a garnish of an unapologetic Y-chromosome knucklehead buddy picture.

The highlights: a visit to Dinosaur Time where Kody falls for a brunette in a leopard print bikini, later named Myra. Eddie gets Myra’s father drunk to facilitate the night of passion. Myra trades on Kody’s genuine affection to request aid attacking an otherworldly installation intended to rain asteroids upon Dinosaur Time. Eddie distracts Domina sexually while Kody and Myra escape the slave collars and together they reverse the asteroid magnet.

Eddie and Kody jump forward in time, heartbroken that something that the boys couldn’t or wouldn’t do for Myra kills her in the jump. And then with Domina chasing them angry that Eddie consistently seduces her and books it out of there before she can restore his damage to her grandfather’s grand plan for the timeline, the boys land in a wasteland. Said wasteland is revealed to be an inter-dimensional dumping ground for a former time traveler, now known as The Void, drawn as a male force of darkness. Eddie and Kody land in the laps of the ladies of the Hell’s Belles, a One Percenter Outlaw Motorcycle Club for women representing the last gasp of regular people. The Void approaches…

In a way, I’m kind of expecting Guns a Blazin’ to fall into the hands of someone who is not a fan of Y-chromosome Knucklehead Adventure Fiction. The hypothetical political screed disguised as a review would define savage in Webster’s Dictionary and possibly the OED for at least six decades. All because my friends wrote and drew a Two Knuckleheads with a Time Machine Loose About the Cosmos Among Bikini-clad Women Story. Luckily, I’m a fan able to see an innocent throwback and judge according to the small details, not overarching pseudo-political concerns that don’t let people have fun.

Pretty much the four issues, so far, do a really good job of channeling writer Mike Wellman and artist Rafael Navarro’s collective sense of boyish adventure. It’s a simple idea, to give two knucklehead types the local equivalent of a TARDIS and set them loose on the timeline. And throw beautiful bikini clad women at them as part of the dramatic obstacles.

Both guys are, in strict point of fact, knuckleheads. Kody the cowboy with a heart of gold is the knucklehead intended as the Everyman Foil, an obvious metaphor that in the face of the advanced mathematics and high-energy physics of time travel everybody is the lunkhead cowboy. And Eddie, or Eduardo if you please, is a different kind of knucklehead. The kind explained by this question – “why is a guy with the ability to run the, as yet unseen, time machine on the run from his ex-girlfriend, Domina, while apparently being unable to fix the already damaged timeline?”

To be fair, much of the answers about Eddie are yet to be revealed by the story, after all it’s not like there isn’t anyone left in comics who hasn’t read the choice of Blake Snyder, Syd Field, Robert McKee, Joseph Campbell (or his literary descendants) and Stan Lee. Knowing the books we read, I can make loosey-goosey guesses about the kind of events to come. But at the moment, the reader is too busy riding shotgun with the boys to worry about when Domina, her mysterious grandfather, or Eddie himself will use the events to come to illuminate the why of the story. Mr. Wellman asserts that he just recently locked the script for Issue Five teasing out more of Eddie’s backstory. Stay tuned to this Bat-Channel!

Speaking of Bat-Channels, I think Mr. Wellman’s real strength in his scripting for Guns a Blazin’ is his masterful pacing and use of the last page/panel as a cliffhanger leading into the next book. As we left it, because Misters Wellman and Navarro can’t write and draw the books fast enough for readers, the Void approaches after testing the Belles’ defenses. We could just as easily say Winter is Coming or next week we will see if Batman and the Boy Wonder will defeat the nefarious Joker and straighten out those crazy Dutch camera angles. A long winded way of saying, yeah, we’re dealing with a professional at teasing the cliffhanger for next time.

Another thing in the plus column is that Kody and his interaction with the still enigmatic and roguish Eddie really goes a long way towards creating empathy for these lovable knuckleheads. Kody expresses an uncharacteristic, for this kind of throwback fiction, genuine affection and respect for the cave girl, Myra. He wants to stay or bring her along over Eddie’s experienced objections. Pretty much, this sweet intent to avoid being a stereotypical bed-hopping cad on Kody’s part will have to serve to mollify the anger likely to spew from the hypothetical screed disguised as a review should the expected angry non-fans read this series. There is only so much that any book can do to chill out the hordes of party poopers and nothing that’s possible once the ink dries.

This affection for the boys allows readers (me at least) to simply not worry about the small things. When introduced to Kody running for the sleeping Eddie during the Indian attack, he speaks with words I associate with a later timeframe in our common spoken lexicon. Shouting incoming and man gives the initial impression that Kody might be the time traveler, not Eddie.

Now, am I an actual expert on what people of 1881 said or didn’t say that isn’t polluted by watching too many Westerns? No. But, these pages do feel like Kody might have originally come from any time after 1900 and the regrettable mechanization of war. Kody’s spoken dialect drifts back to a more accurate personal lexicon over the course of the four books, especially as he expresses his lingering anger towards Eddie for his Try It and See What Happens response to the question of bringing Myra through the time vortex.

Regrettably, this review is quite writer-centric because…hello, writer! While I’ve dabbled in photography and photo-manipulation art, my ability to comment on Mr. Navarro’s art is limited to “nothing strikes me as overtly wrong about the images” and get ready for a style somewhat like Oeming’s work on Powers. You’ll like the art or you won’t; I do given that Mr. Navarro has done some interesting caricatures of me and my character creations (I’m pretty sure the tone of this post has already given away I’m pals with both guys).

So basically, we have a fun (if your worldview allows this kind of fun) time travel romp that makes no apologies for being what it is with minor flaws likely only to tweak the professional ear of someone like me. I’m waiting with baited breath to see how the creeping male pseudo-zombie army gets soundly trashed by the ladies of the Hells Belles MC assisted by two knuckleheads who have the classic We Should Help decision to make. The Void is coming! Winter is Coming! And stay tuned to this Bat-Channel!

Oh, and if you really want single word pull quotes for the poster, there are a bunch littered throughout. I don’t have to make it easy, though.

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