Review: The Man With No Name #1

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is in my Top 5 movies of all-time, so I came in with some seriously serious reservations about this book. But, I like Christos Gage, he’s the new “Matt Fraction!”, and I thought I’d give it a shot. What I found inside was a mixed bag. The art was adequate but not mind-blowing. The writing wasn’t mush better.

It’s very obvious that Gage is trying to connect this book to “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”. When I say connect, I mean that the first issue takes place somewhere between three days and three weeks after the credits roll. This could be interesting, but right now it’s just clunky. The connections: the Union is after Clint for blowing up that bridge right before the climax of GBU. Hmm, kind of weak, but I’ll go with ya’ Gage. Next, one of the padres from Tuco’s brother’s mission shows up dying of his wounds. The dying father begs Clint to save his mission from bandits. After giving it the due amount of consideration, Clint agrees… and I can here the “Kung Fu” music playing in my head.

This may be too much coincidence for me to handle. The problem with this is, there really is no continuity between the three “The Man With No Name” movies, save for Eastwood himself. The movies exist in their own worlds. Each new movie brings a new adventure with new characters. And now, in the span of a single issue, you want me to believe that Clint just happens to run into a character from one of those movies in the middle of the desert? If recycling old characters and plots from the GBU is all this series is really about, then why not just call it “The Gooder, the Badder and the Uglier”?

The Good: The dialogue was perfect when it was quick and snappy. I could actually hear Eastwood’s voice in my head when I read this. That was cool. Complaints about coincidence aside, I’m more than a little excited at the idea of seeing Tuco again, one of the most quotable movie characters of all-time.

The Bad: Here’s some other stuff that bothered me… Clint shooting up Union troops is something the movie character wouldn’t do. He’s an anti-hero, no doubt, but I don’t see him killing honest soldiers. There’s also way too much dialogue from Eastwood. But I understand Gage’s intent. Gage has Eastwood explain himself to a dead man in order for the reader to understand the thought process that went into Clint’s decision to help the padre’s mission. But you know, I think this page would read fine without the cheesy word balloons. We get it. We don’t need to be told…

The Ugly: And that brings me back to the art. If the art was better, Gage wouldn’t need to compensate with unnecessary dialogue. He could let the art breathe and speak for itself. The reader would still feel like he got his money’s worth and the writer wouldn’t have to cover boring art with balloons.

Please Gage, I hope this series doesn’t turn into some weird version of the “A Team” or “Kung Fu” with Eastwood traveling from town to town doing good deeds. What made Clint’s nameless character so special was that even when he was playing “The Good” he wasn’t the superficial white hat. He was a downright bastard at least half the time, just as “The Bad” and “The Ugly”, like Angle Eyes and Tuco, had their altruistic moments. The key to this series is balancing the “good” with the “bastard”. If Gage can do that, I’ll be quite surprised.

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