Page 45 Review by Stephen
"Then I learned killing techniques using everything from sharp-edged weapons to social media."
It's amazing what a little meditation can achieve.
There's never time for any such calm, self-centring shenanigans here: you get exactly what you see on the cover from start to finish: the most awesome, relentless, smack-down video game you've never played. The resolution is sharper than a surgical scalpel, its effects very similar too. Darrow is famous for his detail: like the band aids patching up not our protagonist but his shirt, belt and pistol-butt.
Nevertheless, if you've any sense whatsoever the character you select to play as will be the Shaolin Cowboy: never bet against him even if the odds are insane. Think Jackie Chan replaced by a chubby but equally acrobatic Beat Takeshi. Button mashing is not an option.
You don't have to have read anything previously, but FYI this picks up almost immediately after SHAOLIN COWBOY: SHEMP BUFFET during which Darrow nimbly and fluidly fashioned variation after variation of meat-cleaving mutilation in what I can only describe as the ultimate chainsaw massacre before the juice runs dry and our Cowboy quick-foots it across the top his quarry instead (not a quarry or the quarry but his quarry), deftly dispatching the beetle-bearing shamblers on the stepping-stone hoof.
It was utterly relentless and all the funnier for it.
This instalment has a bigger bite to it, with satire splattered all over the background details including car number plates, car stickers, graffiti, advertising slogans, other assorted excrement (one dog to another: "Man... what have you been eating?"), cigarette-smoking spiders, street-walking komodo dragons, assorted other unhealthy animals and a piles and piles of discarded tins cans. It's not a nice neighbourhood, is what I'm trying to say.
The radio shows are no better.
"You got Dick Jeezuz on all Christian, all American, all white, alright Radio K.R.O.S.S. - what's your question, brother?"
"Dick Jeezus... big believer. Listen to you every day. What kinda gun do you think Jesus carries?"
"Well, bless you, son. To answer your question, the Son of God don't carry no gun. He is a gun. Next caller!"
I think it's fair to say that Geof (one 'f') Darrow is not a big fan of organised religion incorporated. Nor of so many modern priorities and propensities such as driving while using a mobile phone which, I would remind you, is quite rightly illegal in this country.
His books are full of such careless cretins and this is no exception: an endless convoy of cars and commercial lorries hogging the desert highway, either oblivious to our battered and blood-soaked hero or throwing cigarette butts at him as they speed noisily by, ejecting a seemingly limitless stream of beer cans and fast-food trash, as well as expletives at their children.
Following the all-eviscerating events in SHAOLIN COWBOY: SHEMP BUFFET our Shaolin Cowboy is much the worse for wear, but is doggedly pursued by vultures, a glowing green warden from Hell, knife-legged dogs, a gigantic porcine powerhouse with weaponized nipple piercings, plus all and sundry in service to cranky crustacean King Crab using their I'm-Hung cell phones to track him via drones and satellite.
Each with their own vengeful reasons, they're out to enlighten the shit out of his high-flying ass using sass, secret origins and shotguns. Some might un-friend him Facebook.
How can a two-tonne, elephantine pig raised on Cola and pork crackling possibly be balletic? Geof Darrow, that's how. Now here comes the sow:
"We ninjas are known as the accountants of the martial arts world, because we always keep our balance! And I'm going to put you in the red!"
What horrors did Hog Kong behold as a piglet to drive it so stir-fry crazy that it's now craving Shaolin Cowboy cutlets? It's as funny as it is upsetting. Vegans will weep. Oh, the final three pages!
I don't know how more emphatically I can commend it.
This is the only graphic novel that will GPS you all the way to Nirvana.
"Buddha be praised."