Monday, August 19, 2013

Run Reader: The Man with No Name (2008)

From The Man with No Name #1 by Christos Gage and Wellington Diaz.
It has been almost two years(!) since I last wrote about a complete run of issues I have in my comic book collection. Veteran fanboys will  recall that a "complete run" occurs when a collector has all issues of a specific comic book title. In recent years, having a complete run of any given title is not as unusual as it once was, due to titles regularly being started over with a new issue 1, and therefore, a new volume. While I would not confider myself an ultra serious collector, mostly because I don't spend too much money on rare and unusual titles, I do have that OCD that requires me to do my best top acquire all issue in a series that I really enjoy, especially those with a high re-readability level.

Cover to MwNN #8 (2008)
by Richard Isanove.
About three years ago, I was bitten by the "Western-comic book bug," and found myself searching through back issue racks for modern series with a Western bent. In digging through longboxes at my local comic shop I came across the short lived Dynamite series, The Man with No Name (MwNN). Based upon the character and film aesthetic developed by Clint Eastwood and Sergio Leone in their collaborative Spaghetti Western series of films, this series lasted only eleven issues that follows the continuing adventures of the characters and plots of the original MGM film series, serving as a sequel of sorts. This link is even clearer when I looked into purchasing the issues online and realized that they often bear the subtitle The Good, The Bad and the Uglier, added following a title ending colon. Despite the short length of the run (it was eventually continued as a follow-up series entitled with the likely more recognizable title of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly), completing it did take some doing.

From MwNN #5 by
Christos Gage and Wellington Diaz.
Unlike more visually recognizable (and therefore more marketable) characters such as the Lone Ranger and Zorro, both of whom have current or recent series published by Dynamite, MwNN was not as highly ordered in its initial run and therefore not all the back issues were easily available at my local comic shop. Another "challenge" was the fact that many issues had variant covers, most with pin-up style depictions, so I had to be sure not to purchase too many duplicates of existing issues already in possession. (I know it would make sense to maintain a list of numbered issues, but one never knows when they may come across a stack in some small shop without a the list in hand.)

The entire run consists of two storylines, both by different  creative teams. Issues 1-6, entitled "Saints and Sinners," is a direct sequel to the original film that follows "Blondie" (the name by which the original Eastwood charter was referred to in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966)) as he deals with the repercussions of his actions in the classic Spaghetti Western. Written by Christos Gage with art from Wellington Diaz, these dangling plot threads are tied up in comic book and woven into another redemptive opportunity for the character.

The second arc introduces to an earlier adventure of Blondie and Tuco Ramirez, "The Ugly" of the film's title, brought to life so memorably by the late Eli Wallach. "Holiday in the Sun," this five-issue arc was written by Luke Lieberman and Matt Wolpert, with art by Diego Bernard.

Both arcs attempt to duplicate some of Leone's film-making style by employing a slightly more minimalist approach to dialogue as exposition. Blondie does, however, "speak" more in a single issue than in any single Leone film, a concession that must be made for a medium that, while highly visual in nature, does require a degree of expediency. Both Bernard and Diaz offer depictions of the characters in a way that is consistent with the films, though much of the reader's ability to discern Blondie from other similar characters is dependent on his iconic poncho and not-so-iconic mullet-style hair. As a fan of Wallach's Tucco, it is good to see the character brought back to life. Tucco (along with Van Cleef's Angel Eyes) did not appear in any other of Leon's Eastwood movies, so the back and post stories provide the reader and fan a chance to revisit the character. (Angel Eyes does not make an appearance in either, though *SPOILER* the character's death at the end of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly would have made that difficult.

Dynamite's The Man with No Name was followed up immediately after issue 11 the following year with another eight issue miniseries featuring the Man With No Name character. Both series, The Man with No Name (2008) and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (2009) are available in trade paperback at fine local comic shops everywhere. If you're a fan of single issues (as I am), I'd bet if you were diligent you could collect a complete run of both series for yourself.

The final panels from MwNN #11 (2008) by Luke Lieberman and Matt Wolpert,
with art by Diego Bernard.

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