I was delighted a few weeks ago to walk into my local comics store and find the first issue of Black Powder-Bloody Frontier Adventure. The stories of the half-horse, half-alligator river men are a piece of the early American rest that I love to read about, but modern tales about them are few and far between. If you are a follower of a pretty narrow band of US history occurring along the Ohio & Mississippi Rivers and the Natchez Trace in the early 19th century, then everything that you are looking for is in place. Familiar places like Hole in the Rock are there, and characters like the horrible Harpe brothers, Tecumseh, and Mike Fink make an appearance. There is tension between the river rats and the burgeoning industrialists, symbolized in a nice love triangle wrapped around a tale of piracy and kidnapping.
Creator Dwayne Harris is clearly a fan of the period, well read, and knows how to weave history into the story. You can almost feel the New Madrid Earthquake waiting in the wings to throw a Deus Ex Machina into the story. Black Powder appears to be a passion product for Harris, an artist who has worked in a variety of media, including comics. Often when you get a project with a single creator like this you get fantastic artwork with a mediocre story and lousy characters. For a comic put together by an artist the writing is actually quite good. Surprisingly, despite the fact that the creator is primarily an artist, I am not a big fan of the art in the book. Nothing wrong with it per se, just not my taste. Regardless, Harris is writing about the coolest time in American history and doing it with style. Let’s hope #2 of this six issue series sees the light soon.