As someone who grew up in a town whose history was dependent on being a railroad town in the southwest, I am very familiar with the cowboy/gunslinger archetype that is so prevalent in the West. Strangely enough, it wasn’t until last year that I caught one of the most iconic Westerns: Tombstone. The classic story of the shootout at the OK Corral has long captured the imagination of many and the humor and wit of the movie enthralled me as much as it has many other other viewers. While there have been many re-tellings and spinoffs of that story, Wynonna Earp by Beau Smith, Lora Innes and Chris Evenhuis, has to rank amongst one of the most unique. Placing a descendant of Wyatt Earp as the heir of his legacy in a battle against true evil in the form of all kinds of supernatural creatures, the series balances humor and fantasy in a rather remarkable way. Published by IDW in 2016, the series is ongoing and has even inspired a Netflix TV show. For this review, I’ll be looking at the first six issues which have been collected into a single volume.
The story begins with Wynonna Earp up to her ears in zombies as she hunts down supernatural threats as part of the U.S. Marshals Black Badge division. This division has been tasked with eliminating such threats for decades and Earp has earned a reputation as both hot-headed and more of the “shoot first, ask questions maybe” type. As Wynonna, her boss Special Agent Xavier Dolls and her fellow agents John Henry and Valdez eliminate threats like supernatural fighting rings, a nefarious black market body parts dealer who also happens to be a chupacabra and a mad scientist bent on creating zombies, Wynnona starts to find out that there may be more to her legacy than just the name. With the help of her friends, the modern day, evil-vanquishing gunslinger must face the consequences of her family name before the evil forces on her trail catch up to her.
As someone who thoroughly enjoys the combination of supernatural and western known as Weird Westerns, Wynonna Earp was a hell of a treat. It’s full of references to characters that will be familiar to fans of Tombstone and the tone is an amusing combination of the over-the-top, bloody action and sly humor that had me giggling throughout. Wynonna herself is easy to like, for all that she prefers to shoot rather than think her way through problems. I appreciated that this attitude of hers causes her a fair amount of trouble and she has to deal with situations that wouldn’t have happened if she had acted a bit more cautiously. There are about a million one liners so this story definitely doesn’t take itself seriously but it’s a fun romp through a classic Western tale made more modern by the blending of the supernatural.
If you enjoy Westerns with a lot of blood and a bit of the supernatural, Wynonna Earp is well worth your time. It has a blend of humor and intense action that immediately made me think of Tombstone and kept me both amused and compelled. The art is by Innes and Evenhuis (with colors by Jay Fotos) is well done and the almost realistic style of it helps to balance the more over-the-top supernatural elements of the story. Join me next week for a brand new segment of Graphic Reviews as I talk about the ways that the Netflix show adapted this series to television!