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‘The Enfield Gang Massacre’ TPB (review)

Written by Chris Condon
Art by Jacob Phillips
Published by Image Comics

 

In the vast realm of comic book history, few narratives captivate the spirit like those unfolding in the rugged expanse of the American West. The Enfield Gang Massacre, a creation of the dynamic duo Chris Condon and Jacob Phillips, is a bloody, audacious return to the genre, echoing the harsh realities and mythic undertones of their earlier masterpiece, That Texas Blood.

This miniseries, a prequel set 150 years before the events of That Texas Blood, revisits the fictional Ambrose County, Texas, offering fans a stark glimpse into its gritty origins.

Montgomery Enfield, the series’s protagonist—or rather, antihero—is introduced in a familiar scenario: mid-bank robbery. However, his story takes a unique turn that distinguishes it from typical outlaw tales.

Enfield, tired of his life of crime, contemplates retirement, a decision complicated by a brutal murder linked to his last heist. This premise sets the stage for a narrative brimming with conflict, both external and internal, and hints at a profound exploration of the character’s psyche.

The series portrays Ambrose County as a place where the line between good and evil blurs, where heroes and villains might swap hats as quickly as they draw guns. Condon and Phillips delve into this ambiguity with a careful balance of action and introspection, crafting a narrative that questions the black-and-white morality often associated with Westerns.

The artwork by Jacob Phillips breathes life into this conflicted landscape with a style that pays homage to the Western genre while infusing a contemporary vibrancy. His panels are meticulously designed, with expressive linework and atmospheric coloring that heighten the emotional depth of the narrative. Each page is a visual treat, whether it’s a high-stakes shootout or a serene moment of reflection. Decreasing the traditional washed-out sepia tones often associated with Westerns in favor of a richer palette adds a touch of modernity to the historical backdrop.

Comparatively, The Enfield Gang Massacre resonates with That Texas Blood’s thematic and aesthetic sensibilities. Still, it carves out its identity by focusing on an earlier, rawer version of Ambrose County. It’s a prelude that expands the universe established by Condon and Phillips and enriches the ongoing narrative of their main series by providing historical context and depth.

Overall, The Enfield Gang Massacre stands out as a robust addition to the canon of modern Western comics. It marries the allure of frontier mythology with the nuanced storytelling of today’s best graphic narratives.

Fans of That Texas Blood will find much to appreciate here, as will any reader drawn to tales of a bygone era reimagined with a keen eye for the complexities of human nature and the brutal landscapes they inhabit. The comic is not just a recount of past deeds but a meditation on the legacy of violence and the enduring human struggle for morality and justice in a world that often offers neither.

Final Score: 4 out of 5

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