Advance Review: Masterful Storytelling In `Shaolin Cowboy: Cruel To Be Kin’ #4

by Tom Smithyman


Writer/Artist Geof Darrow knows when he needs to change things up in his stories – and has mastered the pivot. That is on display in this issue, as old threats are vanquished and new (and other old) ones challenge our kung-fu-fighting Cowboy.


Changing direction in the middle of any narrative is a difficult task. In comic books, it typically results in an issue that is long on exposition and short on action. In other words, even the best series can suffer from that one really boring installment.

That concept has clearly been lost on Geof Darrow.

Darrow, the series’ writer and artist (better to call him an auteur, really), has taught a master class in story transitions with this issue. Darrow ties up the first half of the tale, in which the Cowboy finishes his desert fight with a floating jellyfish, then segues into visual smorgasbord of chaos and violence as he is challenged by a gang, a helicopter, a giant robot and a giant Buddha head.

After that, the Komodo dragon narrator brings us to a city – complete with MAGA and NRA lovers, animals that smoke and a dilapidated Trump Tower – where the Cowboy begins the next phase of his journey. That voyage, though, is marred by his past. In this case, a couple of characters from the last series, Shaolin Cowboy: Who’ll Stop the Reign?

While Darrow is a visual storyteller, his writing remains strong, and he has set up the second half of this limited series in a compelling way. Visually, Darrow has never been better. Each page is a sight to behold, full of in-jokes, political satire and sophomoric fun. (An all-you-can-eat sex bar is near a door that says “Get out 4NR.)

With this masterful transition behind him, Darrow can now focus on the telling the last half of the story he set out to rely. If it’s anything like the amazing tale that has preceded it, his readers will be in for a fantastic ride.

Shaolin Cowboy: Cruel to be Kin #4 will be available for purchase tomorrow.

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