REVIEW: 'The Wire Fence' One-Shot by Jake Palermo and Raquel Kusiak



Written by: Jake Palermo

Art by: Raquel Kusiak

Colors by: Raquel Kusiak

Letters by: Sean Reinhart

Cover art by: Victor Alpi

Cover price: $4.99

Publisher: CEX

Release date: October 25, 2023

In the late 1800s, the American bison were being hunted by the millions. In this tale of the old west, BBQ, a wire-slinging bison herder is determined to help one herd escape the "Black Hills Gold Rush" that massacred the bison population. An intense tale of the Old West through a fantasy lens!



'The Wire Fence' One-Shot by Jake Palermo and Raquel Kusiak is an interesting character study about an orphan in the Old West who befriends a mysterious stranger with magical powers. With the gold rush endangering the bison population, the stranger uses the power to manipulate barbed wire to rescue and defend the dwindling number of bison, including rare white bison, The orphan, Deven, grows up to be a vital part of the stranger's preservation in South Dakota. 

Deven as an adult uses the story of the stranger to inspire others and keep her story alive. There are some great themes about hard work, respecting the earth and its creatures, as well as the plight of Native Americans during that time. The ideas, while important, are merely presented through dialogue and not in action except for the opening scene. There isn't a satisfying arc to the issue. There are time jumps from Deven as a child to his time as an adult. It feels abrupt without enough character development. The Stranger is more intriguing than Deven and perhaps given more pages or as a limited series that part of the story could flourish into something more. The magical aspects aren't fully explored leaving readers wanting more. 

The story is simply limited by its length. To do a one-shot and create a story with a beginning, middle, and end within the confines of a standard 21-page issue is a monumental task. Palermo does his best to put the best ideas on paper and they have a lot of potential if given room to grow. In a protracted series, all of these concepts could have deeper roots. 

Artistically, Kusiak has a distinctive style that lends itself to a Western. Angular shapes with great composition and great use of color reflect the people of color and the lands of South Dakota in warm subtle tones. 

'The Wire Fence' is a great calling card for its creators, a demo tape that demonstrates what they're capable of. As a story, it feels lacking solely for the box it's been put in. Palermo and Kusiak have something to say and with time and space could be afforded to make great comics. 


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