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Mitchell, Brian John – Just A Man #4 (with Andrew White)

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Just A Man #4 (with art by Andrew White)

One of the many reasons I caution people not to take these reviews too seriously is that I do them every day.  Well, I try to do them every day, but I come pretty close.  As that’s the case, I’m reading these in all sorts of moods, and I’m sure there have been times when a crappy mood has translated into an unfavorable review, something I take every precaution to avoid, but there’s no way I’ve been anywhere near 100% successful.  I mention all this because I had a negative reaction to the last issue of Brian’s Marked series, which was odd because I’ve been a fan of pretty much all of his other series (including the first issue of Marked!).  So was it my mood?  The comic?  Road construction pounding in my ears while I was trying to type?  I’m not sure, but will have a chance to revisit it when the next issue of that series comes out.  Either way, I still absolutely love this one.  This time around our hero has just discovered his wife (who he thought murdered in the first issue) is still alive, and that the “daughter” he has been sent to free from whorehouse is not the man’s daughter at all.  Our hero frees another whore and gives her some new cash to start a new life and has a confrontation with the man who hired him for his “daughter”, so we’re still going to have to wait at least an issue to see what’s up with his wife.  Fine by me, I’ve been enjoying every bit of this and am fine with him keeping it going for as long as possible.  I’m a sucker for the hopeless gunman trying to get his revenge on the people who wronged him, and if things aren’t as cut and dried as we’ve been led to believe, well, so much the better.  Things are rarely as black and white as depicted in most western stories, and the shades of gray are a welcome addition.  I’m assuming you people are already keeping up with this series, but if you’re not and if you wanted to check out just one of his books, I’d go with this one.  Or Lost Kisses, I love that one too.  Or Worms, that’s creepy as hell.  Or maybe XO… $1

Mitchell, Brian John – Just A Man #3 (with Andrew White)

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Just A Man #3 (with art by Andrew White)

What the hell?  Sorry, us “professional” reviewers need to give you readers more to work with but… what the hell?  Brian has expertly flipped the motive behind our hero completely around with this issue, and he caught me completely by surprise.  In this issue our hero takes off towards the whorehouse, at the request of a man in town who says that his daughter is working there and he wants to get her back.  He makes his way to the whorehouse, finds the girl in question, and manages to grab her and head her towards the door… when his wife calls his name.  She’s at the whorehouse too, and she has a gun on him.  His reaction to this is, well, a little odd.  It’s my personal (and constantly changing) rule that everything after the midway point of a book is a spoiler, so I can’t say too much, but this naturally sets our hero to wondering about everything that has happened in the last couple of issues.  He has McTeague’s men after him (looking for revenge), men from the whorehouse after him (looking for the woman he basically kidnapped), and then he’s confronted with another moral dilemma when the woman he’s taken says that she is not the daughter of that man after all, just somebody he wants as his own personal whore.  This is by far the best issue of the series, and the other two were pretty damned good already.  It takes some talent to make a straightforward western revenge story into something else entirely, and Brian did it flawlessly.  Check it out, it’s a tough competition but this may end up being his best series of all.  $1

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Mitchell, Brian John – Just A Man #2 (with Andrew White)

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Just A Man #2 (with art by Andrew White)

Hey look, it is a series after all!  If you’re confused go back and read the review for the last issue, where I kvetched endlessly about the merits of this as a one-shot versus as a series.  Judging from the most recent pile of books sent my way this isn’t his only new series.  If the man keeps up this ridiculous pace he might want to put together some sort of index so we can all keep up.  This time around our hero has finished off the people who killed his wife and child and is left with an understandable emptiness.  Adrift, he goes to sleep on the back of his horse and lets it take him to his next destination, wherever that may be.  He’s also on the lookout for some of McTeague’s men who may be out looking for revenge, although he’s at a bit of a loss to explain why he should go on living.  He eventually has a reason to live drop into his lap, or at least a way to have a meaningful death, which we’ll learn more about the next time around.  Feels like I may have spoiled too much with this one, but the pacing of these makes it a bit too easy to summarize.  That’s right, it’s somehow Brian’s fault.  Sure, I’ll stick with that.  Anyway, my opinion of this series went up considerably now that I know it IS a series, as who doesn’t like a good western about a man on the run?  It’s officially worth a look as far as I’m concerned.  $1

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Mitchell, Brian John – Just A Man #1 (with Andrew White)

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Just A Man #1 (with art by Andrew White)

If there’s one thing that Brian needs, it’s clearly another series.  As sarcasm doesn’t come across well on the internets, let me just make clear how very sarcastic that was.  The man is already a machine, it seems ridiculous to start up another series.  More power to him if he wants to keep four series going at once, although it’s hard to tell if this one is going to be more than one issue.  This is the story of a simple man who works the land to feed his family until he comes home to find his house on fire.  His infant son is dead, his wife is missing, and he has a pretty good idea who’s responsible.  I may have my westerns mixed up, but isn’t that the plot from Unforgiven?  Except that the Clint Eastwood character at least had a history as a gunslinger.  Anyway, a confrontation occurs (sort of), things end, and I’d think this was a one-shot if it wasn’t for the gaping bit of story that remains unresolved.   All told the story didn’t do a lot for me, as it seemed like something I’d seen before, and even the dialogue got cliched every once in a while.  Granted, that’s probably hard to avoid with a western, so he doesn’t lose any points for that.  Still, that gaping plot hole (I’m trying to avoid spoilers), the lack of resolution with what should be a central character, is annoying.  If this is a series, fine.  If not, it ruins this as a one-shot.  Time will tell, but start with his other series and work your way over to this one.  Oh, I should mention that the art perfectly suited the mood of this book, to end on a positive note if nothing else.  $1

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