Sunday, January 26, 2014


TO HELL YOU RIDE (Dark Horse, 2013; Hardcover)

Collects To Hell You Ride Nos. 1-5 (cover dates December, 2012- July, 2013)

Writers: Lance Henriksen and Joseph Maddrey

Artist: Tom Mandrake

Colorists: Cris Peter and Mat Lopes

Many streets in Detroit and older surrounding cities are either French or Native American by name, which makes sense since those two groups have been in this region since before the United States was even a country. I have Native American blood in me from some point in my family tree, and have long been fascinated by their traditions and respect for the land which we have built concrete canyons on top of. To Hell You Ride is one of those stories steeply rooted in the old ways, when the world was young and more mysterious.

This will be a spoiler-ish review. I tend to avoid those, but when you are dealing with a mini-series like this that has slid under the radar of so many folks, a review merely saying that I like it might not convince people to pick it up. This is, after all, one of the purposes of this blog: Trying to point out comic books that are worth reading.

When a mining company in the 1800s desecrates a sacred burial ground in their pursuit of profit, the ritual of atonement to please the Old Ones is performed. Four braves meeting the arrowheads of their own arrows. When this ritual is interrupted by the white man, the Watchers were then born, a part of the surrounding land and water. They are sort of spirit energy who melt the flesh off of bones when the living are unfortunate enough to make contact with them.

Seven George is a Native American who resides in the Colorado Mountains. Many of the locals call him “Two-Dogs”, a name that he hates. Like many Native Americans, he has been given the short end of the stick. Life on a reservation in the middle of nowhere and little to no prospects are a perfect recipe for misery. Only the town sheriff is a friend and father figure to Two-Dogs, trying to keep him out of trouble and out of jail.

Mayor Cubby Boyer has sold his town down the river by making a fortune off of those mines and then turning the town into a ski resort. The problem is that it hasn't snowed in five years, breaking the back of the local economy. In an attempt to jumpstart Mother Nature, Boyer has decided to use yellowcake pollen to make it snow. I Googled that to see if it would work, and I found out nothing. Heck, I will probably end up being visited by the Secret Service, all because I am trying to research and write the most thorough and accurate reviews possible. I bleed for my art. 

So there is a huge snowfall, and the tourists and their money come back to the town...only the Watchers are waiting. Things go to Hell in a handbasket for those who come into contact with this “sick” snow on this sick land. A pandemic containment force, Blackwash (not Blackwater), is brought in to contain and eliminate the threat. The town becomes a prison. Seven George (Two-Dogs) fulfills his destiny, reclaiming his heritage and paying the debt for the land to the Old Ones. A balance is restored and a lesson learned.

Tom Mandrake is one of those artists whose name alone will make me plunk down my hard earned money. His work has a macabre, photo realistic quality not unlike Neal Adams. He has done lots of Horror stuff over the years and his work seems to only improve with age.

The writing is top notch, the artwork and coloring are top notch, and the production values of this book are top notch. If that doesn't convince you to pick up something different then I don't know what will.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 5 out of 5.

The OCD zone- While I bought the standard consumer edition hardcover, this is also available as a signed and limited to 100 copies.
DVD-style Extras included in this book: Origins afterward (1 page).
Character sketches and various stages of cover art (24 pages).
Paper rating: 5 out of 5. Thick coated stock with a slight sheen that has that sweet, sweet toxic Chinese printing press smell, likely the result of paper sourced from virgin Amazon rainforests and ink which is a concoction of lead paint chips, broken and pulped asbestos tiles, mercury from recalled thermometers, and the final magical ingredient: the blood, sweat, and tears of the children working the sweatshop printing presses.
Binding rating: 4.75 out of 5. Smyth sewn binding, eight stitches per signature. The book block isn't glued square to the casing and flexes a little, but it is the super thick paper which prevents the book from lying completely flat.
Hardback cover coating rating: 5 out of 5. The image is printed directly on the hardback itself, no dustjacket required. The coating is a thick glossy lamination which help to ensure a long, happy life on your bookshelf.

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