Comics Features

REVIEW: Death-Rattler

Written by Tommy Partl

Who doesn’t love a good old fashioned Wild West revenge story? Death Rattler takes place in a steampunk-esque version of the Old West. The Devil’s Cross Gang rules the frontier, murdering and thieving whoever they want. In the comic’s prologue, a gold-toothed gang member murders an old farmer, and his daughter, years later, begins a quest for revenge against The Devil’s Cross Gang. The woman’s name is Death Rattler, and this issue begins her Tarantino-esque quest to kill every member of The Devil’s Cross Gang, right up to the gold-toothed leader who killed her dad.

Kelly Bender‘s story is filled with blood, gore, and shootouts. A family vengeance story is always entertaining, and judging from the intriguing prologue, Death Rattler’s father may have ties to The Devil’s Cross Gang that she has no clue about yet. The dialogue hits a lot of racy jokes. For instance, next issue has Death-Rattler visiting “The Deadliest Whore House in Texas.” As humorous as the dialogue tries to be, the puns mostly land on groans, as lot of these jokes are forced in there and not too funny.

The story does treat its premise well–aside from a brief intro about the magic world the characters inhabit, we don’t get too much exposition on the mechanics of the world. We’re thrown right into the action and get to fill in the details as the bullets and colors fly through the panels. The Western-meets-steampunk-meets-magic slant gives the world an intriguing twist, and I did wish we got to see more of the world, rather than just the weapons, in this first issue. Undoubtedly we’ll get more entrenched in it as the next three issues unfold.

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On the art side, Ryan Downing‘s character designs are vivid and expressive. He lays out each page in a clean, swift way that makes the comic breeze past you. The highlight comes a couple pages into the book, when Death Rattler discovers her namesake–a horrific, demonic looking rattlesnake with yellow eyes and sharp fangs that will send chills through you. However, Alan Bay‘s colouring is the standout in the comic. He mixes vivid shadows with vibrant colours to make each page pop with life. The art complements the story’s racy jokes by drawing women with pencil-thin waists and men with muscles like boulders. The exaggerated style is a little funny, but it does eventually get old.

Overall, while coloured vibrantly, Death-Rattler never does too much to distinguish itself among other Western revenge tales, especially with its hit-or-miss humour. However, there’s plenty of time for the story to get a firm footing in the next three issues as Death Rattler’s quest for vengeance unfolds, undoubtedly with the quirky characters in The Deadliest Whorehouse in Texas. The comic does have a promising start, and we’ll see where Death Rattler’s quest for vengeance takes her.

What are your thoughts on Death-Rattler? Do you have a raging quest for vengeance against those who have wronged your family? Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Twitter!

About the author

Tommy Partl