A posse of frontier superheroes, a ghostly tribe of shapeshifters and an army led by a madman all converge on Shadow Valley to battle the spirits of the valley itself as they hunt for a secret that could change the course of the West – and humanity – forever.
There’s a secret in Shadow Valley. A handful of people know their own tiny parts of that secret, but only one man may know the whole story. He has assembled a posse of supernaturally skilled outlaws and deputies to go into the accursed valley for his own reasons. Meanwhile, a deranged U.S. Army colonel has led his brigade into the same valley at the behest of his own supernatural master, seeking the same secret – but he, too, has his own reasons for wanting the ultimate prize. As the two sides clash, the ancient – and cursed – tribe that calls the valley “home” look on, seeking to keep the secret safe and perhaps gain their own redemption along the way.
This tale combines equal parts “Magnificent Seven”, “X-Men” and “X-Files” into a truly unique Old West meets Steampunk vision. The story moves along briskly while still somehow fleshing out rich characters with their own motivations and a story that is beautifully self-contained while still managing to work its way through some twists. At times, it’s hard to keep track of who is on which side and who the “good” guys are, but that works beautifully to keep the ultimate conclusion hidden until the very end. Even then, there’s some question as to who – if anyone – really “won”.
My Take: The only knock on this is that it isn’t long enough. Shadow Valley is said to swallow up any who ride in and I can understand: as soon as I set foot inside, I didn’t want to leave. With intimately developed characters and a rich and intriguing story that touches on the technological, the supernatural and the spiritual and yet somehow manages to treat each with its own modicum of respect and fascination, “The Guns of Shadow Valley” truly has something for everyone. The art is perfectly rendered, making this one of those graphic novels that truly immerses the reader in the action – almost immediately you start to forget that you’re looking at words and pictures on a page and can almost start to hear and feel the action unfolding around you. Dave Wachter and James Andrew Clark have crafted one for the ages here and one that should definitely be turned into a franchise.