American Legends #1 looks to explore the early 19th century frontier with famous historical characters Davy Crockett and Marie Laveau, to name a few, as a plot to eradicate the Lewis and Clark expedition unfolds. Is this historical fiction good?
American Legends #1 (Top Cow/Image Comics)
Writers Bill and Zachary Schwartz use a unique style utilizing mini-stories within the book. It makes the book rather hard to follow. It reads quite like a raging, flooding Mississippi River tossing and turning everything in its path knowing it will eventually end up in the Gulf of Mexico. To elaborate on this point, the first three pages are telling three different stories. On the first page we are introduced to Jean Lafitte who is enjoying the festivities of Mardi Gras. On the second page, the reader is introduced to Sally Thunder as she charges through the streets on her horse. While on the third page the first real mini story begins; Sally has somehow ended up in a cemetery encountering Marie Laveau. Why she is in the cemetery is unclear, but it leads to an interesting chase sequence. Unfortunately, it is impossible to tell what happens to Sally other than the fact she is thrown from her horse. Studio Hive shows one panel of Sally leading her horse through a broken branch and then the ensuing panel she is suspended in the air above her horse. Going from strange to bizarre the next page opens with her hanging with one hand from a bridge. The panels do not flow well at all and one questions whether Sally is just a poor rider.
The mini stories continue with the introduction of Davy Crockett and Mike Turk in an exciting action sequence. Studio Hive has the action panels flowing extremely well together. They also add a really interesting fog effect making the scene more dramatic and interesting to view. However, the sequence is hampered by some cheesy dialogue when Mike Turk states “I ain’t fallin’ for your bull no more!” What makes this so cheesy is he just one-hit punched a bull to death not three panels before this line! There are multiple instances throughout the book with dialogue on par with the aforementioned. If you like cheese you will enjoy it.
Studio Hive must have used multiple artists because about halfway through the book, the artwork takes a drastic change mostly for the better with harsher pencils and a lot more shading. It gives the book a grittier, darker feel. In the beginning there was a large emphasis on facial details, while the second half of the book focuses more on the interactions between the characters and less on their specific details.
Switching over to the lettering by Troy Peteri, his use of the old fashioned cursive font for the narrative gives the book the historical feel although it does make it a tad difficult to read. His use of a light brown for the color of the bubbles is also not the greatest color to look at and becomes a tad irritating the further you get into the book.
Is It Good?
American Legends #1 struggles to find its legs. It jumps around from story to story and characters will be in one place and then all of a sudden be in another, with no explanation of why they are there. The artwork also struggled in the beginning especially with depicting action sequences but improved and even had a change of style altogether towards the middle of the book. A lot of the dialogue between the characters was cheesy and the coloring of the lettering becomes more and more irritating the more you see it.