Disclosure: The reviewer received a review copy of this book via Netgalley

Review: Black Jack KetchumBlack Jack Ketchum by Brian Schirmer, Claudia Balboni, Jeremy Saliba
Genres: Comics, Fiction, Fantasy
Release: 2016
Type: Graphic Novel
Source: Netgalley

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I like weird westerns. Or, rather, I like the idea of weird westerns. The whole western milieu lends itself to a spooky, otherworldly atmosphere. Some of my favorite weird westerns include Stephen King’s Dark Tower series and the Clint Eastwood movie High Plains Drifter. So I went into Black Jack Ketchum with high hopes.

This graphic novel collects the four-issue miniseries from Image Comics into a single volume. It is inspired by the life of the historical outlaw Tom Ketchum. In the graphic novel, Tom Ketchum finds himself pursued by supernatural hunters who are trying to bring Black Jack Ketchum to justice. However, Tom insists that he is not Black Jack Ketchum–that they have the wrong man. Ketchum does seem to be familiar with the magical ways of the West and he possesses a talking sidearm.

I enjoyed the artwork in this volume. The mining towns, vast desert expanses, and towering geological features make a great visual landscape.

However, the narrative was difficult to follow. Ketchum and his companions seemed to jump from one setting and situation to another with no explanation as to what was going on. I suppose that was probably the point of the thing, but I couldn’t figure it out.

What Makes it Epic Grit:

  • Adventure and Wonder: There’s a desperate pursuit through a surreal western landscape.
  • Believable Characters: The characters barely registered with me.
  • Real Consequences: Maybe? I couldn’t tell.
  • Epic in Scope: No.
  • Subverts “Good versus Evil” Tropes: I think so.
  • Different Perspectives: No.


I just didn’t get it. It was too slipstream for me. Thumbs up on the artwork.