REVIEW: 'The Shaolin Cowboy: Cruel to be Kin' #1 by Geof Darrow and Dave Stewart



Writer: Geof Darrow
Artist: Geof Darrow, Dave Stewart
Letterer: Nate Piekos
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: May 18, 2022
Cover Price: $4.99

In Phase 4 of the SCU, the Shaolin Cowboy finds his parenting skills being tested when he is forced to homeschool during a pandemic of unparalleled violence, in this story torn from yesterday's viral Twitter feeds.

Can he get a kung fu grip on the situation before a horde of .45 loving human monsters and not so human monsters send him to the ICU?

Only guns, swords, and flying guillotines will tell!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


★★★★1/2 (4.5/5)

I was not familiar with Shaolin Cowboy previously so I didn't know what to expect from Geof Darrow's latest, 'The Shaolin Cowboy: Cruel to be Kin.' I was not ready. It is one of the most bizarre and entertaining comics I've read this year. 

The story is told from the perspective of a talking lizard retelling his encounter with the Shaolin Cowboy to his son. It is one of the funniest conversational exchanges ever as the father's fantastic story grows ever more incredulous and the son remarks as the reader will with skeptical shock. And the story does get more and more bonkers in the best ways. The action escalates into a fever pitch with some cinematic fervor and dazzling detailed illustrations. 

The Cowboy is a quiet wanderer walking the earth and trouble seems to find him. In this opening chapter, he protects a baby lizard from his monstrous father and then has to fend off an attack from the unlikeliest of antagonists. It's so absurd that stating it here would make me sound like I'm making it up but it involves a talking Pterodactyl and a giant flying jellyfish. See what I mean? You have to see it for yourself. It all takes place in a desert and it's so beautifully captured by Darrow and colorist Dave Stewart. 

Darrow doesn't know how to take it easy or take any shortcuts. You're getting every dimple in a boulder, every stone on the desert floor, every scale on the dinosaur, and every window, power line, and rooftop in an aerial shot of a dilapidated city. I don't think Darrow would want it any other way. You're getting the full Darrow experience in painstaking detail. Your eyes will linger on every page and wonder why and how you're getting such wondrous art in a comic about talking lizards. Stewart's colors are subdued but carefully crafted to differentiate the lizards from one another, differentiate the desert hills, and highlight one graffiti-laden dinosaur skeleton. It's controlled chaos from one page to the other with eye-popping design and composition. 

You don't have to know anything about Shaolin Cowboy going into 'Cruel to be Kin.' It's meant to be experienced in the moment and just enjoy the ride. Asking questions will be futile, just give in to the craziness on the page and don't worry about motivation or backstory or none of that baggage. Follow along as the Cowboy and a baby lizard escape death in a desert chased by, well, you should just buy it and see for yourself. This is one of the most entertaining stories you'll see in comics because it's just fun from beginning to end. It has to be read to be believed.