Writer: Louis Southard
Artist: David Hahn
Publisher: Scout Comics
WHAT IS IT?
At a time when justice is rare in the West, an unlikely, supernatural duo solves problems their own way.
Think American Vampire meets The Equalizer.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
It’s 1868, and a gang of outlaws led by Red Tom have taken over a town by murdering everyone but the barkeep at the saloon. As the new Mayor, whatever Red Tom wants, Red Tom gets, until two mysterious strangers ride into town and stop to quench their thirst.
Who are these newcomers, and will they meet the same fate as the rest of the town, or has Red Tom and his gang bitten off more than they can chew?
Southard has said in interviews that he had the idea for “goth cowboys,” which led to the creation of Midnight Western Theatre. But from that simple phrase has come a solid premise for this story of Alexander and the Woman in Black making their way across the West, headed to the coast.
Hahn’s artwork fits the story perfectly, especially the character design for the two main characters that evokes similar characters from pop culture, but still feels fresh and unique.
There’s a muted quality to the colors that Cody employs here, which matches the setting of an Old West frontier town. It also causes those panels to stand out more where brighter colors are used for the background of silhouettes, when guns are shot, and the scenes depicting fire.
Beaudoin’s font choices and decision to invert the colors of the text and speech bubbles for Alexander are interesting and provide an early clue to Alexander’s character.
Southard makes a choice with the beginning of this comic that is particularly effective. He opens the comic with two pages about two settlers to the West seemingly disconnected from the rest of the narrative that allows him to establish the perceived dangers of the West through their eyes, only to then introduce the objectively evil Red Tom and his gang as that perceived danger made manifest.
The few panels in silhouette give the impression that the members of Red Tom's gang or the victims of their actions could be anyone and as a result, those panels become menacing and ominous.
Beaudoin’s SFX indicate effective pacing throughout, helping to build the tension of a given moment and then release that tension once the shooting starts.
The full-page introduction of Alexander and the Woman in Black is rendered beautifully by Hahn and Cody, especially against the light purple background of the early evening sky.
The reveal of Alexander’s true form along with the Woman in Black’s horse in a later panel are two other standout moments.
The connection between the first two pages and the main story is a satisfying reveal.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
CW: Southard quickly and effectively establishes Red Tom as the bad guy when he kills the Sheriff, but then he instructs his men to kill the six children the Sheriff was protecting. Although it isn’t shown, and gunshot SFX are used in a panel depicting a white owl observing everything, it was shockingly gratuitous and didn’t fit the tone of the rest of the issue.
There are a few panels where the dialogue is disjointed or incongruous, for example when the Woman in Black responds to Red Tom with “What work?” or when Alexander says “I’m an American” in response to being asked, “What are you?”
The placement of all Beaudoin’s SFX really complement the art in the panels, but the same sound effect is used for all of the gunshots and there could have been more variety.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Midnight Western Theatre has two compelling main characters that you will desperately want to know more about by the end of the issue. The defiant Woman in Black and put-upon Alexander appear to be an unlikely duo serving justice – or vengeance as the case may be.
There’s a fascinating element here that the monsters that populate this dusty and dangerous West are both human and supernatural, and it’s not always clear if this is a case of good guys versus bad guys. Perhaps the good guys don’t always wear white?
Midnight Western Theatre is shocking, violent, and surprising, with a splash of dark humor. Saddle up to the bar, pour yourself a sarsaparilla, and get ready for another fantastic debut issue from Scout Comics.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Villains Seeking Hero by Louis Southard and Ben Matsuya
American Vampire by Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque
Grit by Brian Wickman and Kevin Castaniero
If you like the art:
Private Beach by David Hahn
Dry Foot by Jarred Lujan and Orlando Caicedo
Heathen by Natasha Alterici
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Louis Southard (@louisjsouthard) – Writer
New Face: This is Southard’s second comic after Villains Seeking Hero, which was first published by Action Lab and now self-published and available on Gumroad.
Independently published a novella, It is I, Doom: An Anxious Love Story available on Amazon.com.
As the creative director of Southard Industries, has the goal to “house a space of creative prosperity in any and all forms. Where creators of any sort may come together without fear of judgement or ruin.”
David Hahn (@David_Hahn) – Artist
In 2002, his series Private Beach was nominated for an Eisner Award for Best New Series and an Ignatz Award for Outstanding Series.
He is a founding member of the comics and illustration studio, Helioscope (formerly Periscope Studio).
Is currently part of the creative team for The Dusk on Kickstarter along with Alex Segura, Elizabeth Little, Ellie Wright, and Taylor Esposito. The Dusk is described as a modern reimagining of a vigilante superhero.
Along with fellow artist Scott Godlewski hosts the podcast The Illustrious Gentlemen.
Cody also colors the Image series Family Tree written by Jeff Lemire with art by penciler Phil Hester, inker Eric Gapstur, and letters by Steve Wands.
He has a new creator-owned comic set to start May 10, 2021 on his Patreon page that he describes as a superhero/sci-fi/roadtrip noir.
Buddy Beaudoin (@BuddyOrDie) – Letterer
Dream Team: Beaudoin and Southard have worked together before on Villains Seeking Hero.
Ran the small publishing imprint Gentlemen Pickle with Brennan Freemantle with several series available on ComiXology.
Multi-talented: Beaudoin has also worked as a professional event and portrait photographer.
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Midnight Western Theatre #1 was published by Scout Comics and Entertainment, Inc. Louis Southard and David Hahn are creators of this work. All characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright of the above or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.