Shiny Shelf

Shaolin Cowboy #1

By Mark Clapham on 19 December 2004

Geof Darrow is clearly not a man to let mere sanity stand in the way of his artistic vision. ‘Shaolin Cowboy’, second comic from the Wachowski Brothers’ Burlyman Entertainment, is unadulterated psychotic nonsense. Good work, Geof!

The Cowboy of the title is a rather shabby, oddly cherubic former Shaolin monk, who rides around the desert on a talking donkey, occasionally stopping to kill people, mainly the relatives of people he’s already killed. He’s quick with a gun and even quicker with a sword, ploughing his way through legions of redneck enemies without ever seeming to have to make any effort.

That’s pretty much it – a first issue that’s full of weird, exquisitely drawn brutality, with characters that don’t even aspire to the depth of caricatures, and a few talking animals, including a gun-toting monkey and a fascist crab.

Now, this could easily read like a below-par Garth Ennis book, were it not for Darrow’s graceful approach to action and inventive eye for detail. This is a horrible comic, full of violence and revolting gore, but it’s also beautifully executed, and very funny.

Sure, the joke may get old a few issues in, but for now ‘Shaolin Cowboy’ is the purest ultraviolent rush on the comics market. Chalk it up as a second win for Burlyman.

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By Mark Clapham

Mark Clapham is a Devon-based writer and editor. You can find out more about him at the egotistically named

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