Lonesome Vol 2: The Ruffians

By Yves Swolfs
Publisher: Cinebook
ISBN: 9781800440012

After a very strong opening volume we rush headlong into book two. Our nameless hero (he’s not the man with no name, he just likes to tell folk his name won’t mean anything to them) is locked up in the jailhouse awaiting his fate. A fresh bunch of corrupted men has arrived to take him away, but they don’t intend to get him to the proposed destination. Instead, it’s an execution out in the snow, or at least, that’s the plan.

Soon the rider is back on the trail of Markham the preacher, but there’s a new wrinkle to contend with. There’s another group tracking Markham, and they have the numbers and the firepower to achieve their aim. The only problem is, if they do, the lone rider doesn’t get his answers. Forced to infiltrate their numbers, he runs the risk of having to contend with two groups of heavily armed men. But it’s the only way he can guarantee to get to Markham.

The supernatural element is toned right down in this issue, getting the briefest of mentions. There’s a reminder of what his abilities are too, but, by and large, this is very much a classic western tale. Plenty of gunfights, ambushes, double-crosses, subterfuge, chases and quick thinking make for a non-stop ride across the snowy landscape.

Like the first volume, the book is incredibly well put together. The art – page after page – evokes a genuine sense of place, with the skilful colouring transporting you to the cold and ice. Pleasingly, we’re fed just enough information about the rider’s past to keep us intrigued. Also, he’s more than just a blank slate action hero, so as he deals with each situation his character and personality grow. There’s a clever part where he hides from the ruffians who are watching Markham and five men escape on horseback. But our hero, on a sixth horse, some way back, suspends himself on the horse’s far side, as he was taught by the Native Americans that have raised him. Consequently, the ruffians, at least at first, just see a horse running after its stablemates. A subtle touch that feels exactly right given the situation.

With what looks like it may be a shift to New York for the next book I’m anticipating a different dynamic, but Swolfs can keep this level of quality up we won’t be disappointed.

And if you liked that: The third book, The Ties Of Blood

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