Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Bat Lash #1 "Splendor in the Sage"

Bat Lash #1 Feb 08
"Guns & Roses: Splendor in the Sage"
Peter Brandvold & Sergio Aragones, story -John Severin, art - Walter Simonson, cover

Okay, our story starts in west Texas circa 1875. 1875.

Can you hear me screaming through the screen? I actually haven't stopped to take a breath....yet.
Still screaming, I have about 15 seconds more until I get it out of my system

Okay, I think I can proceed, except for the fact that I have been rereading the Scalphunter run in Weird Western Tales and Bat Lash was an integral part of that series, a series that started in 1862. So back then we have Bat, a grown man in 1862 (in his late 20's, early 30's), now appearing to be a young man, possibly in his early 20's, 15 years later. Oddly enough, DC, the company that is rediscovering its history, can't seem to get history straight.

Okay, NOW I can proceed. Our story starts with Bat Lash pursuing Dominique Wilder, the obvious love of his life. The pursuit continues with Bat carrying a copy of Keats. Bat catches Dominique and we are rewarded with a panel that has tons of meaning.

However, their little meeting doesn't go unnoticed, Sheriff Brubaker and his men are up in the hills overlooking the scene. One of Brubaker's men has a pair of binoculars and mentions that he has just seen, Dominique, Brubaker's girl friend. Brubaker looks through the binoculars and witnesses his girlfriend with Bat Lash, the son of a family that is raising Mustangs on cattle land (a horrible offense).

Later, Bat rides off, leaving Dominique with a promise that he will be careful and that they will be together forever. Riding away, Bat is singing heartily when he is suddenly lassoed from his horse by Brubaker and his men. They are deciding if they should drag him until he's dead or hang him now. They opt for the latter and once Bat is noosed, Bat announces to Brubaker that Dominique doesn't love Brubaker and never will. Brubaker gives Bat's horse a slap on the rump. The rope pulls tight and ....

Suddenly Comanches are descending on Brubaker and his men. They ride off, taking a few bullets and the Comanches continue pursuit as Two-Moons dismounts to speak with Bat. When the Comanches return, they ask Two-Moons why he does not take the wonderful yellow scalp of Bat. Two-Moons relates the tale of two years ago when he was buffalo hunting and his horse stumbled, throwing him into the running herd. Bat appeared out of nowhere, saved Two-Moons, tended to his wounds and got him back to his tribe.
Two-Moons and Bat talk about their troubles, Two-Moons relates how Dominique's dad has dammed up the streams to water his cattle and put a bounty on Indian scalps. Bat explains how is family is getting forced off their land and may have to shut down their mustang ranch. Before Two-Moons rides off, he tells Bat that he should join the Comanches.

Dominique, unaware of all that has transpired, rides on home and sees Brubaker's horse at her house. She goes inside and overhears her father & Brubaker discussing her and Bat. Brubaker demands that Wilder keep better control of his daughter or Brubaker won't bend the law in Wilder's favor when it comes to running off the Indians, prospectors, and squatters. Brubaker recounts how he tried to hang Bat but failed. Wilder says that Brubaker will need to run off the whole family by destroying their ranch.

Brubaker asks "What about Mrs. Lash?" to which Wilder replies "She chose her fate a long time ago."

Over at the Lash ranch, Bat comes riding home, a lot worse for the wear. Bat is greeted by his younger brother, Billy, and his dad, Zeke. Bat's mother, who appears to be Hispanic, comes out and frets over Bat. Then they all head in for dinner.

Meanwhile, Dominique is riding hard and fast to get to the Lash ranch to warn them of Brubaker's plan. Night falls and a huge storm opens up. Dominique is caught in the downpour when suddenly Brubaker jumps down from an overhanging rock and knocks her from her horse. Sadisticly, Brubaker forces a kiss on the semi-conscious Dominique and then takes her to a nearby cabin (that was rendered vacant when Brubaker recently killed the family per Wilder's instructions) and once inside we see him toss aside his gunbelt in a obvious foreshadowing for raping Dominique.

Statistics for the issue
Men killed by Bat Lash - 0
Bat's Injuries - roped, drug, and almost hung
Timeline - 1875.

It was good to see Bat's family, I'm not sure they have ever been portrayed before. Severin's art is absolutely some of the best in the industry, giving a very cinematic quality to the story. A lot of folks think that art in a western has to be gritty, but I prefer the clean lines and the grittiness come from the dialogue and the scenery, not the artwork. Overall, this looks to be a top-notch book, even though there is an impending rape. At least we know that Dominique won't end up in a refrigerator.


SallyP said...

Well, I read it, and I liked it, but I did have some minor quibbles.

WHY is Dominique riding astride in a short skirt? Her thighs have to look raw hamburger! Ouch! She SHOULD be wearing about 20 pounds worth of petticoats, corset and skirts, or at the very least, a riding habit. And a hat. And gloves.

And you're right about the dats.

SallyP said...

Oops, I meant to say dates. My computer can't spell.

Dwayne "the canoe guy" said...

"dats" ok