By Erik Hyska
November 19th, 2019
AfterShock Comics has announced “Undone by Blood or the Shadow of a Wanted Man,” a western thriller miniseries debuting in February 2020, by writers Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson, with art by Sami Kivelä, colors by Jason Wordie, and lettering by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou.
“Undone by Blood” is set in the early 1970s and follows Ethel Grady Lane, as she returns to her hometown of Sweetheart, Arizona, seeking revenge on the man who killed her family. Her choice to pick up a revolver is inspired by the in-universe pulp western novel she is reading, The Shadow of a Wanted Man, which is itself a revenge story about a gunslinger named Solomon Eaton. As both characters seek retribution in the West, Ethel and Solomon’s stories weave together in an exploration of vengeance and how fiction can influence reality.
Thompson cites Cormac McCarthy’s writings, Spaghetti Westerns, and the Coen Brothers as inspirations for the story: “Lonnie and I are both huge fans of Spaghetti Westerns. Visually they’re some of the most wonderfully shot and dynamic films out there. They rely on visual storytelling first and foremost and often feature leads who speak seldomly. We were dying to bring that energy to comics.” Nadler adds, “If you like Westerns, you’ll like this. It is, hands down, the best thing Zac and I have done together.”
As much as “Undone by Blood” attempts to impress classic Western tropes in the comic, the team also hopes the use of the metatextual, The Shadow of a Wanted Man, becomes a device for deconstructing the Western genre. Nadler writes, “I’d always been a fan of metatextual storytelling, which stems from my love for postmodern literature by the likes of Paul Auster and Italo Calvino, and so I’d been wanting to try my hand at telling a story within a story for quite some time. However, it took Zac and I both seeing Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals to realize how we could do this in comics… The result are two very different stories within one book that impact each other in unpredictable ways that examine the lasting legacy, both good and bad, of the Western genre on contemporary American culture.”
Kivelä joins the team fresh from the Eisner-nominated “Abbott” and the recent four-issue miniseries “Machine Gun Wizards” (formerly “Tommy Gun Wizards”). Thompson says, “Sami Kivelä is one of the best artists working in comics today – bar none… We’ve been trying to do a project with Sami for years and have been cooking up this book for a while. We’ve also got the incredible Jason Wordie on colors, which together with Sami are a dream team.”
“Undone by Blood or the Shadow of a Wanted Man” #1 is scheduled to be released February 12, 2020. In the meantime, you can check out the artwork at The Hollywood Reporter.