Monday, August 22, 2016

Book Review: Cowboys & Aliens by S. M. Rosenberg

Cowboys And Aliens created by Simon Mitchell Rosenberg, written by Fred Van Lente and Andrew Foley, art by Dennis Calero and Luciano Lima

A wagon train has almost made it to its destination in the Arizona Territory, 1873. The train is under attack by Apaches, with two gunslingers (Verity and Zeke) trying to save them. Zeke sneaks out to get the calvary. On his way he is hunted down by a couple of Apaches. Just before they kill him, an alien spacecraft crashes nearby, distracting the Native Americans and letting Zeke escape. The aliens start collecting people and make plans to claim the Earth as their own colony. The cowboys and Indians have to band together to fight off the space invaders.

In case the theme of how colonialism is bad might go over the readers' heads, a prologue explains how awful the 1800s Americans were for displacing and wiping out the natives living in the American West. 1800s Americans followed Manifest Destiny, the assumption that America should extend from sea to shining sea. According to the prologue, it is the sort of destiny that could be overcome by human will. At least that's the hope when the colonial aliens crash-land and think it's their destiny to take over a resource rich Earth. It's not a bad theme (there were certainly lots of atrocities against various native tribes throughout the 1800s) but it does seem heavy-handed (and I don't remember the theme from the movie version). If the prologue wasn't there, the theme wouldn't seem so ham-fisted.

The story itself is fun though the characters are a little underdeveloped. Some of the plot twists are too obvious (even without seeing the movie) but others are clever and unexpected. The idea is enjoyable and the ending promises more to come. There is an online comic sequel which I haven't read...yet.

A fun but not great read. My review of the movie said it was not that interesting; this comic version (which is different) is better.

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