Despite the critical panning the Cowboys & Aliens film received, I figured that there had to be some good to the comic. Surely there must be some good in a comic if a company is willing to spend $100 million on adapting it for the cinema?
The Cowboys & Aliens comic is gubbins. A mindless series of battles stapled together with no thought to characterisation or pacing. The artwork is incoherent, I struggled to make out what was happening in a number of panels, I often failed to tell two of the aliens apart. The writing is poor, the dialogue cheesy and the characters forgettable. I finished reading it just a few days ago, and I’ve already forgotten the name of the two heroes.
That the story attempts to add some resonance makes it all the more insulting. The tale begins by showing the aliens of the title enslaving some other alien race. This is paralleled with the white man’s dominance of Native Americans. There’s no subtlety to this, it’s an overt reference, before the action starts and the mindless violence ensues. The comic ends with a discussion between cowboy and Indian about how they can possibly find a way to work together. This is polishing a turd, you can’t just bookend a story with supposed thematic depth, ignore it through the body of your work, then claim it as intellectual nourishment.
The conceit of Cowboys & Aliens is absurd and should be treated as such. This isn’t a criticism. This comic should’ve been light and funny and over the top. To make it serious would require much better character work, and more skill than is present.
I paid £1.99 for Cowboys & Aliens. That’s still too much.