Wynnona Earp: The Yeti Wars
Writer(s): Beau Smith
Artist(s): Enrique Villagran
Publisher: IDW Publishing (December 28, 2010)
The descendant of Wyatt Earp is a US Marshal working for a division in charge of hunting paranormal phenomena. She kicks ass and takes names in no particular order. She has to stop an evil organization from conducting illegal experiments.
I enjoy receiving a lesson now and again. I know stating “receiving a lesson” conjures images such as those of an English schoolmaster with paddle in hand and a frown, but this time I mean it in a very positive sense.
You see, I’m a very merciless comic-book reviewer in my personal life but I forgot (to some degree) that I am putting a public persona in these blog-pages. I owe Beau Smith a lesson on humility for reminding me that I should measure twice and revise often the words I commit to the public eye.
In case you have been following (and the site stats tells me that someone out there IS actually following the blog) I gave a pretty low review to Mr. Smiths previous work, the one titled Wynnona Earp, mostly turned off by art that was unappealing to me, but also taking exception to the lack of originality on the story line.
Mr. Beau Smith contacted me via the blog, and later we exchanged a series of very enlighten and very polite missives via e-mail, that ended on my striking a friendly bet with Beau Smith regarding this work I’m reviewing now. He gave me access to the book, and I promised that after the review, if I liked it enough to give it more than 6 stars, I would purchase two copies.
In the exchanges we had via e-mail, Mr. Smith reminded me of something very important.
He wrote to me stating:
“My goal with Wynonna Earp is to have fun, give the reader some light hearted, action and “Blue Skies” adventure. Folks sometimes don’t know that light-hearted, likable characters are just as hard if not harder to write than ones filled with angst and crushing doom. It’s good to have both and more for all readers.”
And yes, that helped me realize sometimes that I am too harsh with this industry that I adore and that has treated so many of its artists so roughly (and of course I’m including the writers in the term “artists”).
I search for different degrees of perfection, a perfect plateau on its genre and that implies being knowledgeable about the ins-outs and history of this industry; I do it so much that sometimes I forget that this is a popular medium. A pop media and we need the light-hearted, the amateurs, the budding artists, as much as we need the guidance of the consummated artists and veteran pros.
Wynona Earp, the TPB that got two stars, is a book with an audience. It’s a great introductory book for those young adults that haven’t read comics till their late teens, or early youth, for people who need a bit of light reading in their life, without complications and without further drama.
There is a need for that, and we shouldn’t forget it (the way I did).
The book that I gave such a low review is a platform of new artists, where up and comers can get experience in a very difficult field. I gave it a low review because it was being reviewed by a snob (me) who has worked in the industry and at times is bitter that this industry is not as widely recognized and readily admired as the movie industry is now-a-days, for example.
So, albeit the low quantity of stars remains, I have to apologize for not qualifying and explaining more in detail what they meant in context. I also apologize, to my readers and to my inner child, the one who never lost the faith on the power of the graphic-storytelling media, for having lost a bit of track that there are works for every taste.
Now, regarding Wynnona Earp:The Yeti wars, I’ll admit that I enjoyed quite more the script on this comic. Mr. Smith presents us with a collection of characters that are better defined and have more volume than in the previous work. The story moves at brisk pace, and our attentions is smartly diverted between what happens with our heroes and what is occurring with the main bad guy.
The heroes are down to earth characters, the salt-of-the-earth types, who command snappy dialogs, and make fun of themselves with the friendly banters that many young audiences will deem as “pretty cool” (hey, I may be older, but I found it charming, so… lay off me!)
Beau Smith rendered the action with a perfect TV/Serial quality, oscillating smartly between the camp of the villains and the strategies of the “good guys” and between that and the action scenes, we found a very effective tale of US Marshals storming secret labs, where bad yetis are used as weapons, and “good” yetis are also recruited as a counter-measure.
Mr. Smith panders (pretty smartly) to the weapons lover, the guys who spend their weekends in the firing range, or their back your unloading rounds onto targets, and he gives us a good measure of firearms love-moment that will satisfy the audiences that subscribe to those tendencies.
Now the subtext here is how smartly Beau Smith appeased many types of audiences, in a very demure way. He calmed the fears of those insecure males that may view powerful female figures as “lesbian bitches” by showing her title character display affection for a rugged figure at the end of the book. That also won over the outgoing girl comic readers (Yes, I know you gals are out there!) by showing them that you can be strong, sexy and still feminine all in one short page!
He appeased the Green Peace lovers by having some “bad” yetis, and some “good” yetis and the only ones that were truly evil were the vampires, but then again, they had master-race tendencies to begin with, that remind us of Nazis, and we know no one can like Nazis! In comics and in video games, Nazis are the perfect evil guys!!
So, young scribes and future Stan-Lee’s wannabes, take notice on how crafty Beau Smith is at succinctly (and if you, young writer, don’t know what succinctly is you have a long way to go) interpolated many elements in the plot with many personal characteristics that enhance the plot.
On a personal note I will state that I am totally certain (and I will bet, like they did in the comic, a case of beer) that Beau Smith modeled the character of Smitty after himself. Smart, witty, and quick with a retort but faster with a gun, flirty with the ladies, and not always getting away with what he wants, but using those occasions to his advantage and showing that he can play fair, and that a gent also knows how to lose gracefully.
Now, regarding the artist, Enrique Villagran, I have to say that I’ve known of the artistic brothers (3 of them?) and their incursion into European titles, what some may call Fummettis. The Villagran style of comic rendering is usually efficient and direct, if not always sophisticated and as graceful as it could be.
I have to admit that I am not familiar with their complete body of work, but I’ve seen Enrique’s work before and it always left me a feeling of a talent that could strive for more. His strength is not on the technical know-how of rendering the figures in full plasticity and volume, but he is a very capable story-board layout, and he had the advantage that Beau Smith must’ve given him a pretty straight script, where he just had to add the materialization of the ideas. What I really admire about Enrique and his brothers is the support and guidance they provide to new-comer artists and that more than makes up for any shortcoming I may find in the aesthetics of this book. Like I said in the beginning of this review, most comics have their audiences, and I can see parents buying their kids in their early teens this TPB and everyone in the family commenting and enjoying the action. After all, there are plenty of shooting, but in this book we mostly only kill imaginaries beasties, and c’mon, let’s face it: Left to their own devices, young teens would enjoy much more violent readings and play gorier video games than this, if it wasn’t for adult supervision (which has NO substitute).
This book is a fun romp of action taking place in the outskirts of the unknown, and again, I can see there being an audience that would LOVE this. The avid comic book reader that measures every book purchased against the shadow of The Watchmen or V for Vendetta, will likely not enjoy this book as much as the casual reader who wants a story that is a bit outside convention, has lots of gun play, snappy dialog, and lots of supernatural action!
So, on my Critics rating, Wynonna Earp: Yeti Wars gets