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The title and premise of this series is ridiculous yet completely fascinating. It’s still very ludicrous, but something about the writing and the art make for an original story that the world of comics has never seen. I should give the history on the success of the book, although… you’re bound to hear the tale upon picking it up from any comic retailer. The spiel goes like this, the series was only to be four issues long, but due to its sales it was given an on-going status. So why is this book so good?
For starters it’s about a man who has distinct personalities living in his head. One as you may come to suspect is a Cowboy. Another is a Ninja and the last is… you guessed it, a Viking. The man’s name is Duncan and he has little to no clue what’s happening in his head. Dr. Ghislain, who is owed a favor by every person of power in the United States, experimented on Duncan due to his “triplet” personality.
Sara Nix works for Dr. Ghislain, sitting behind a desk in his New York Office. The job pays shit and there’s nothing glamorous about it, but once you’ve paid your dues the agency places you anywhere you want to go. Sara is on her way to becoming a Special Liaison to the Joint Chiefs and will be working directly with the President… if she can find a replacement.
Unfortunately for Sara another one of Dr. Ghislain’s “triplet” experiments is on the loose. The Doc is called in and Sara is sent to round up Duncan. Problem is Duncan doesn’t like being found. Sara and her replacement corner Duncan on a roof top, which turns out not to be such a fresh idea. Duncan is equipped with a gun, sword and an axe. All of which he is very good at using.
The brilliance of this story is the dialog. Everyone has a distinct personality, including Duncan’s different personas. The banter that occurs between the three will make you forget what’s happening in the scene because it sucks you in so much. Duncan isn’t the only one with dialog that grabs you. Nix gives a long monologue to her replacement telling him how many people of popularity and importances have sat in her chair before. Even the replacement plays his role of being a total jerk with everything he says.
The story is written by AJ Lieberman (Martian Manhunter) who shows his talent by delivering a strong story that breaks from traditional comic book storytelling. The story bounces back and forth from past to present and never once looses the reader. He’s taken a formula that works best for film and television and made it work for comics, something other writers have failed at.
The art is beautiful and gritty and the magazine format works for the series. It allows Riley Rossmo’s (Proof) style to fill out the page and capture the reader’s attention. The men he draws are ugly and no two look alike, but it works for the story. The women on the other hand are attractive and striking to look upon. Everything in the book has almost a sloppy feel to it, yet every detail is there for the eye to pick up on. The book is basically in black and white but, Rossmo adds contrasting blue tones to the panels to really make the fine detail pop out. It’s incredibly effective and succeeds where grey tones fail.
There’s a reason this book is so popular, it’s because it’s really good. I picked up the first issue based on the hype I was hearing about it and for once you can believe the hype. The first four issues have been collected in trade paperback format which is great for new readers to the series since it’ll be next to impossible to find the first issue. It’s really hard to tell someone with a straight face that a book called Cowboy Ninja Viking is one of the best comics of the last year… but it is!
Story – 9.9
Plot – 9.5
Characters – 10.0
Art – 10.0
Overall – 9.8
“Screw the whores; let’s just shoot him in his privates!” I need to leave you all with that line. Follow Dustin on Twitter and post a comment of your favorite Duncan line below.