A Look at Shaolin Cowboy.
(AfroGamers.com) Shaolin Cowboy is a comic book series currently published by Darkhorse but has its roots going back to the Wachowskis’ imprint back in 2004. This series is extremely weird. If I could come up with something to tie this to, I’d say that there is ton of 1960s underground comix influence here. Actually, just underground comix in general. There’s definitely some ridiculous stuff to spy here.
The Shaolin Cowboy
Our adventure opens with a wounded cowboy in a field of corpses. He uses the chi manipulation from his kung fu experience to recover before heading off in search of medical assistance. Little does he know that he’s being watched via a hacked drone. Through the book—which collects issues eight through eleven—the Shaolin Cowboy fights a number of zombies and other things that shouldn’t exist.
To say that The Shaolin Cowboy is a little graphic is an understatement. This is one violent comic that doesn’t let up on carnage. Our hero uses ridiculously named techniques in what is basically a 140-page action film from start to finish. Actually, I believe that this was meant to be an action film idea but it was bounced to a comic format.
A shame really, this is just the kind of thing I’d sit through if it were on screen. That said, it’s obvious this wouldn’t have been a blockbuster. You’re looking at an NC-17 rating and little promotion. If anything, it a screen adaption would’ve popped up sometime after the end of Sense8 if the Wachowskis had input. Given their work on that show and The Matrix and I’d say you have a cult favorite.
This Machine Kills Zombies
The world of The Shaolin Cowboy is an outrageous one where animals talk and those who don’t are just allowed to roam around towns freely. You have dogs in trash, animals eating other animals, and people just going about their day like “This is totally normal, who needs Animal Control? Not this town!”
The comic also features commentary about American culture in the first issue of this collection but dialogue basically disappears as the issues go on. What you get are a number of fights and then one massive zombie slaughter.
What also stands out with the over-the-top nature of everything here is Geof Darrow’s incredible artwork (he also does the story). This guy has worked on a ton of stuff but some of his early contributions wouldn’t be recognized. Darrow came out of the Hanna-Barbera studios and worked on series such as Super Friends and Richie Rich.
Down the line, he became known for his work with Frank Miller on Hard Boiled. It was his work on The Matrix and related media that forged a relationship with the Wachowskis that continued with The Shaolin Cowboy and 2008’s Speed Racer.
Yes, he’s stayed busy and his art style and writing really came to life in this series.
That said, there’s really nothing else about The Shaolin Cowboy: Shemp Buffet. It’s supposed to get a continuation, so maybe there will be more steak to go with this sizzle. This isn’t a comic that will totally make you rethink the medium and expand your horizons. It’s a comic that delivers endless action and violence from start to finish. That is its main fault: it’s really all action and little to no story to go along with it.
Of course, the first few issues—one through seven—explain more but the bigger buzz was around this collection which came out years after the first run. Unless you’re just really familiar with Darrow’s work or a fan of him, you couldn’t be blamed for coming in thinking this is where everything started if you picked up the graphic novel.
As stated before, this would’ve been a really fun action film but as a comic, it hits the spot for a while before you’re just over it midway through.
RATING: 6/10 (It’s A’ight)
Staff Writer; M. Swift
This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.