From Publishers Weekly
While being hyped as the greatest Canadian western comic book ever may sound like faint praise indeed, in the case of Chantler's thrilling historical adventure, it definitely is not. Categorized as young adult historical fiction, the book is a James Fenimore Cooper–styled thriller set in remote Rupert's Land, circa 1755. Fort Newcastle, an English-run trading post commanded by the stout-hearted hero Charles Lord, is overrun in a vicious sneak attack by French mercenaries looking to get rich off the fur trade. Lord and the survivors of the massacre wander the wilderness, looking for allies and plotting their revenge, while inside the captured fort, the villainous Guerin Montglave plots evil deeds. Chantler's sharp black and white artwork (replete with dramatic closeups and muscular action choreography) has a welcome precision to it, while the writing has a pulp immediacy ( 'T'ought you could 'ide, English dog?' ) which brings history to life. This collected edition of the three-issue original comes with copious and welcome annotations at the back, where Chantler discusses various plot points and historical references as well as the different styles used from one frame to the next (including one he calls his Frank Miller shot). (June)
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A cover from the serialized version of this story proclaimed "two-fisted historical adventure," and seldom has a product so lived up to its advertising. Chantler conflates American western mythology and British naval adventure to tell the story of the Canadian northern frontier of 1755, when British, French, and private interests competed for the lucrative fur trade. In such a large-scale epic, characterization might easily have been lost, but by focusing on the fierce enmity between Lord, a British company man and explorer, and Montglave, an amoral French privateer, the story hangs its historical facts on an emotional stake. Though Chantler assembles a huge ensemble cast with complex backstories, his expressive, fluid art brings out the personality of even such supporting characters as a Han Soloinspired trader and a Batman-like hunter. Readers, particularly boys, looking for a rich, suspenseful, action-packed story (with some fascinating historical details) will find it here in spades. Included is a nearly book-length annotated section, discussing the book's creation. Karp, Jesse