‘Cobber #1:’ Comic Book Review

There's fire in the stone, and it burns everyone.

Hayden Fryer brings us to the Australian frontier in his new series, Cobber.  A desolate and harsh land that rivals the American West in legends of gunfights and lone men facing down dirty town bureaucrats, Cobber sets up just such a town under the thumb of a ruthless and selfish boss.  Opal mines seem to be the source of the power and greed in this tale, and their reputation for bad luck seems to be well founded.

Fryer knows how to build a western. The pace is slow. It's the meandering course of a river with a deep bottom, and you know things will end up as rapids soon enough.  It'll likely be at a moment where we can't wait anymore but still before we're ready.  Fryer has the slow burn working well, giving us vignettes of life in the world he's created, and it feels like Butch Cassidy with the wildness and wide angle on the world.  It's not moseying (having no place to go and being in no hurry to get there); the pacing has a tense, deliberate quality that pushes you on throughout.

The artwork is simple in keeping with the minimalist style of the narrative; black-and-white pencils serve Fryer well, giving it a feel like Kirosawa's Yojimbo or any of the Westerns that inspired it.  It's a nostalgic quality that he manages to bring a fresh feeling to, like what those films would have been like for people seeing them for the first time.  The starkness of the land and the hardness of the people come through beautifully and leave us no doubt of how difficult life can be there.

Western lovers will get a thrill out of this new series, especially if Gunsmoke and Maverick get your memories sparked.  This feels right in every way and should be a good pick up for you.


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