On a recent trip to the comic shop I managed to walk out with almost nothing but westerns, not a common thing in today’s superhero saturated market. While heading to the register I caught a strange cover on the “all ages” section, with a cowboy riding a brown bear roping a giant snake. What the hell, I thought, it’s probably pretty bad, but it’s only $2.99 and at least it’s a western, right? Turns out this was the best book of the day.
Reed Gunther and the Steak Snacking Snake by brothers Shane and Chris Houghton is a funny little comic about a wandering cowboy do-gooder and his pard, a loveable and sometimes ferocious bear named Sterling. In the course of their travels, the come across a female rancher named Starla, who has an unusual problem- she can’t get her cattle to move. Not only that, they keep disappearing from the plains. The problem is, as the title suggests, I giant snake that lives in the local river that likes to feast on her herd. Together Reed, Starla, and the indomitable Sterling must find a way to rid the plains of the snake and protect the herd.
This comic is fun, adventurous, and (now this is a word that had probably never appeared in the this blog) cute. Reed is gallant though occasionally cowardly, Starla is his feisty foil, and in every frame that you see Sterling you just want to invite the big lug over to curl up by your fireplace. The art is clean and simple, fitting the all ages audience. A note from the creators at the end says that the original version of this was black and white, but from the talent that Chris Houghton has with color I’m glad they upgraded. This issue of Reed Gunther looks to be the first of a continuing series, and I sure hope it does keep going. Deadlands, Outlaw Territory, and now this? Congratulations to Image Comics for keeping western comics alive.