Writer (S): Brett Matthews
Artist (s): Sergio Cariello, John Cassaday Dean White
US Publisher: Dynamite (2007)
THE LONE RANGER is an unrelenting tale of the American West. Texas Ranger John Reid seeks revenge for the murders of his family and friends, only to find justice…and that he’s something greater than he ever thought he could be.
I have a list of comics to review, and a schedule of when to post the review. Of course, schedules are flexible, and if get good feedback (or bad) on any review, I don’t mind finagling the list and moving things around.
What I should note is that this comic was one of the reasons what drove me to create this blog. After finishing the first volume of The Lone Ranger TPB, I waited impatiently, month after month to see the second volume on the store. It was killing me seeing the single issues on the store, with those fabulous and dramatic covers, knowing that the interior art was as good as the story.
Let me start by restating that if you are going to re-define/reinvent a myth, this is the way it should be done. You should have enough historical distance from the original source material that you will be allowed to make changes, take liberties, and in general rewrite the interpretation of a venerable character such as this.
This book, besides having that perfect timing formula for revamping a hero of yesteryears going for it, it also has a formidable team of illustrators and writers behind it.
The narrative of the whole book is slow, intense, like a thunderstorm on the Texas plain. Brett Matthews did his research and remained faithful to the origins of the lone ranger. The last survivor of a family of ambushed Texas rangers, who has to walk a fine line between revenge and justice.
I can’t sing enough praises about the symbiosis between the writer, Brett Matthew and the artists, (both the cover and the actual comic book artist) John Cassaday and Sergio Cariello .
When you have a hard time separating the script from the graphics, and knowing what you owe to what, then you know that both artists (I am calling the writer an artist, as I usually do, because what he does IS art) are in synchronicity and working at unison towards a common goal.
And then you get the covers!
The covers, on this graphic novel, work as they are supposed to work. Complements and enhancers to the graphics and story.
Don’t you hate it when you are impressed with a cover, all dynamic, and promising a good story inside, and then when you open the book, the graphic style is TOTALLY UNRELATED to the cover???
NOTE that I am not complaining about the interior artist not doing the cover. I am complaining about bait-and-switch.
And then inside you get the always edgy and sometimes quirky graphic style of Phillip Hester. Anything wrong with any of these artists?
But, side rant staying on the side, this book has John Cassaday performing amazingly powerful and dramatic covers that remain in the style of Sergio Cariello.
And what a covers they are!!!
I can imagine them full blown and as gorgeous prints, framed in hip offices of artistic types, impressing all visitors and clients alike!!!
If I had a Man-Cave, I would surely hang a couple up! Right next to my favorite covers of all time, something that I will elaborate in future posts, I promise.
Reading the credits I see that the cover artists also become the Art director. Well, after the great job done on this book, and choosing the awesome Dean White as colorist, it may be a formula more people in the comic industry may want to copy and duplicate more often.
I actually remember Cariello’s work from Azrael’s run in DC back in the 2000’s. Looking at his work in Lone Ranger I could see lots of influences from the Kubert school, even without looking it up on his bio (as I later did, and smiled when I got my suspicions confirmed.). And mind you, great school if you are going to be picking up pointers and influences.
Sergio Cariello uses the horizontal panel almost in an obsessive-compulsive way, but the angles he chooses when drawing the figure and all the dynamism he invests in his characters make it work in a way that very few other people could pull off. This leaves splash pages or half splashes available to achieve the effect it is supposed to achieve, which is to awe, give us pause, and inflict gravitas in our memory of the book.
Brett is one of those few and far in between writers that earn himself a spot not only as a comic book scribe but also as an amazing writer in the general sense of the world. You see, the mastery of writing for comics usually gets lost in graphic translation. The mastery is oriented very generously towards the graphics artist, describing things, making suggestions, populating the background so the artist can shine.
Brett Matthews here has lines of dialog that really shine, such as the kid’s dialog in page 6 of the first issue, or some of the monologues given to Cavendish. Speaking of the bad guy, how are the heroes to shine if their villains are not on equal footing pertaining their misdeeds?
Cavendish comes across in his own origin story as a brutish oaf, whom we are allowed to glimpse short hints about a harsh childhood and a rough youth. He seems like a man who has been stripped of humanity by the world, and is in a one man war against anyone who gets in his way. But Brett Matthews chose to convey this in a very flawed and humane way, and we are given an opportunity to feel for the man, at the end of the second TPB (matching number 11 of the regular series). That, my friends, is a staple of a great writer.
To come back to my opening statement about this comic being the one that inspired me to start this blog, I should explain that another factor that influenced me to do so, is the fact that so many comic book lovers had discovered this comic. It didn’t have enough good press and enough word of mouth.
Now that I finally get to give it some relevance and I finally get around singing its praises I discover that the series will be finished with issue 25.
Our friends at Comic Book Resources have a great interview with Brett Matthews where he explains the details
I really can go on and on and on about reasons why this collection impressed me.
But all I can say in closing is
So, on my Critic’s rating, The Lone Ranger TPB Vol 1 published by Dynamite gets