WesterNoir – Book Three – Siren Song of the Mississippi Mermaids
Published by Accent UK
Dave West (writer) & Gary Crutchley (writer/artist)
Supernatural/Western Genre – b/w, 36 pages.
Reviewed by Gareth Sleightholme
I picked this book up at Thought Bubble (TBF15). They had issues 1 to 4 on the table, but for a first time buy I thought I’d just try the one (though I’m regretting not picking all four up now). I went for issue 3 mostly due to the beautiful mermaid cover featuring Crutchley’s linework along with some equally excellent subtle colours by Matt Soffe.
I’m a sucker for mermaid/sea creature stories*, plus I was raised on westerns by my father so this combination seemed too good to pass up; and it didn’t disappoint. It also turned out I didn’t need to have read the other books to enjoy this issue, it being pretty much a self-contained tale.
The basic premise sees our dour but noble anti-hero protagonist Josiah Black moving through a frontier America, part Silverado, part Maverick. Black seems exhausted, a man who has perhaps seen and done too many bad things, and he appears to be looking for rest or redemption. Following a chance encounter with the beautiful owner of a riverboat casino, the victim in a crime thwarted by our hero, it seems that Black might just have found a place to rest his head. There are twists aplenty however, and soon this redemption story took a darker turn straight into the transformation folk tale territory I love.
Westernoir is definitely a series I’d be willing to read more of, Black’s character seems fully formed in the creator’s imagination and as such, has depths and subtle nuances that make the reader want to know more… the same goes for some of the other obviously recurring characters.
There is some genuine pathos here provided by West’s pacing and dialogue, whilst Crutchley’s art (black & white with some tonal greys) conveys the tale without fuss or confusing over-embellishment, though I’d love to see a whole story given Soffe’s colour treatment.
*Hence, Severed Head Cult