West: Distance Issue 1 – Cheverton & Keable head back to the Civil War
By Andrew Cheverton and Tim Keable
I Looked at West: Justice a while ago and found it very enjoyable – a spaghetti Western with a difference featuring mystery man Jerusalem West and his propensity to find trouble wherever he goes.
Handily, Distance issue 1 has a succinct and intriguing summary of all that went before right on the inside front cover, giving away nothing you’ll discover in Justice, yet setting the stage for what is to come quite marvellously:
As a first issue and at just 20 pages long there’s not that much I can say about Distance without ruining it for the reader bar that it’s everything West: Justice was and yet more.
The story takes place before the events of Justice; right at the start of the American Civil War. It’s Tennessee, 1862 and a younger but immediately recognisable Jerusalem West is fighting as a rifleman for the Unionists. In the midst of the bloody nightmare of war, in an attempt to escape the everyday horrors he sees at every turn, West spends as much time as possible writing love letters to his wife Eloise.
(Jerusalem West seeks refuge from the horrors of the American Civil War by losing himself in letters to his beloved wife)
But his temporary reprieve from the bloodshed is shattered when memories of a traumatic past come into his sights and West has a chance to take a brutal and bloody revenge. On what I really can’t tell you, lest it spoil your fun, but it’s a stylistic and narrative twist that propels West: Distance far beyond anything Cheverton’s tackled thus far.
Keable’s art seems to have settled into a style that’s somewhere between the classical and edgy looks he used in Justice, and it’s immediately impressive, with a stylish, minimal line that’s very attractive.
(The reasons West wants to get up close and very personal with this target forms the core of West: Distance, and I’m not going to ruin the story by telling you why)
Overall, Distance issue 1 looks and reads rather brilliantly, with a storyline full of promise and invention. Compared to the short story, one moment in West’s life format of Justice, Distance has a much more open and decompressed feel, quite natural as part of a longer storyline. It’s in turns reassuringly familiar and yet a very different and intriguing comic. Issue 2 can’t come soon enough.
(For more West, and to see an entire strip, there’s West: Believers, the strip that inspired Cheverton and Keable to develop the series, complete and online.)