By John Arcudi and A. C Zamudio
Set on the west coast during the Gold Rush era of the United States, John Arcudi’s new work from Monkeybrain Comics opens with a short first issue that serves as a great taste of what the series will be. Real West is clear about its direction; both in its title and initial cover image. One of the most successful titles to come from the publisher is the crime anthology, Masks and Mobsters. Crediting an anthologist, Chris Schweizer, inside the comic may give some indication that the digital publisher is about to do the same in another genre.
In this first issue, a woman rides out and away from the town lead by a man by the name of Bonner. Ada is following the man to the grave site of her father so she can pay respects and say goodbye. Upon reaching the location, she asks Mr. Bonner to tell her the tale of how this came to pass. Arcudi does a great job holding the interest of the reader in this opening story. The tale of her father’s demise is a great one. Though the fight remains grounded, the battle is no less exciting or enthralling. Readers may even find themselves caught up in the tension so much so that they forget they have already been told how this skirmish will end.
Artist A.C. Zamudio trades an abundance of pencil lines for some thicker line work. Because the story shifts in time between the present and the past, Zamudio adjust the tone of the colours so readers are able to interpret a shift in story without needing any caption. It is all the more effective with the conclusion of the issue, and in their pairing the issue as a whole delivers far beyond one might expect from an issue that totals in less than ten pages.
Arcudi’s opening chapter is a great glimpse into this new world. It feels almost like a recent Baltimore one-off story. Readers have no need for any complex background or world building here. Instead, those things are traded for voice and tone. There might be little context for who the major players are or what exactly is going on in this universe, but that never matters or takes away from the effectiveness of Real West #1. Fans of Arcudi, or those willing to take a chance on a new series will be overly satisfied. If the action beats of the story don’t convince, the conclusion is sure to leave an impression.