zine, [zeen] noun. 1. abbr. of fanzine; 2. any amateurly-published periodical. Oxford Reference


Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Rule Of Death Revisited – We Always Die At Noon


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The Rule Of Death issues 5 & 6

By Daniel Merlin Goodbrey and Douglas Noble


r5cov r6cov

I looked at Rule of Death last time with issues 1-4 and thought:

"For a book with a man refusing death Goodbrey is never short of a comedy one liner or two. And it's this refusal to let neither the macabre events or the ridiculousness of the situation get out of hand that sees Rule Of Death rise above what could have been a rather silly or a rather doom laden zombie tale and turn into something far, far better and wonderfully original."

Issues 5 & 6 of the print version of Goodbrey and Noble's Western Zombie Gunfighter saga (who better than a man who can't die to earn big money in gunfight betting?) just kept the whole thing going very satisfyingly indeed. Our dead man Pete Colby and his manager Murphy are in town for a series of gunfights under Pete's stage name of Slow Draw Pete McGraw, the slowest gunslinger in the old west.

And the entire thing kicks off brilliantly with a marvellous gag of all the gunfights being held at noon, no matter what time it really is. Complete with a man changing the gunfighting time on the special gunfighting clock:


(Well, what time would you put on a gunfight? From The Rule Of Death issue 5 by Goodbrey and Noble.)

Slow Draw Pete McGraw wins, as you might expect, since he can take a hit far better than his opponents. But the end is in sight for Pete, either from the mysterious figure hurtling towards them in a stagecoach murmuring "soon enough Pete Colby, soon enough" or maybe in the shape of the best gunslinger he's ever come up against. One way or another, the man who refused death has to eventually answer for his decision not to die.

There's much to enjoy in Rule Of Death, Goodbrey's writing is crisp and suspenseful throughout all the tense gunfighting scenes, something perfectly drawn by Noble to really play on the slow drawing out of the moment as the clock ticks on to the inevitable sound of gunfire and death. But on top of that there's the wicked sense of humour that keeps it all from becoming just another zombie western. Hold on, are there any other zombie westerns out there? If there are, this is by far the best of them, and if there's not, Rule Of Death is just a marvellously original, suspenseful, funny and entertaining first.


(Lovely art and suspenseful storytelling from the gunfight in Rule Of Death by Goodbrey and Noble)

The art in Rule Of Death has been taken directly from the b&w files, resulting in a very crisp and stark look to these two issues (something my crappy scanner is currently refusing to show). But, although I enjoy the crispness and stark contrasts I have to admit that I slightly preferred the darker, greying of the backgrounds when they were taken from the online coloured art in issues 1-4. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot about the crispness of the new comics I love, but the greying backgrounds gave the strip a much darker, disturbing, moody feel.

But that's probably something you need to work out for yourself. One thing is certain, Rule Of Death is a great story, and there's even a great cliffhanger to look forward to at the end of issue 6 that made me head online to see how cleverly and sweetly they resolved it (I wasn't disappointed). But being the luddite where it comes to reading online, I still prefer reading it in comics form, but should you wish the whole thing is in colour at Serializer.net.

Get in touch with either Noble or Goodbrey for copies. But whichever you choose, print or online, it's a great comic.


Richard Bruton.


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