Select one of the keywords
Gunpowder Girl and the Outlaw Squaw    by Don Hudson order for
Gunpowder Girl and the Outlaw Squaw
by Don Hudson
Order:  USA  Can
Active Images, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Lance Victor Eaton

These aren't your ordinary outlaws. First, they are two tough women who are just as capable of shooting as the posse of men out to get them. They do not get along that well and racism taints their relationship. Don Hudson has created depths in Gunpowder Girl and the Outlaw Squaw achieved in few Westerns.

Hudson's Western adventure follows Jill and Anuteh, two female outlaws who must come together to survive, despite their differences. While robbing a train, their companion Molly is shot and succumbs to her wounds, leaving the two estranged characters to survive while fleeing the sheriff and his gang. The sheriff uses the services of Iron Bear, a Native American who is Anuteh's husband of and wants to get her back from her life as an outlaw. After Molly's death, the two take off with the sheriff in hot pursuit (he catches up to them at various times for additional conflict). Ultimately, the two must decide if they are better together or on their own, but as the bounty for them increases, their options lessen.

Hudson emphasizes the patriarchal dominance of the Western genre via his use of female protagonists, and yet fails to fully focus on female strength and ability throughout the story. His climax produces results that dissolve his establishment of strong female leads. However, he does well to emphasize issues of trust and friendship among outlaws, and the added anger of men who have been outwitted by women.

The black and white art maintains a tone that evokes the dusty and dirty environment so popularly presented in film and television. One can almost feel the grit in one's teeth while reading this graphic novel. The art inside the book actually surpasses the art on the cover which feels too cartoonish and detracted by the color. Throughout, the facial expressions among the different characters and their interaction - whether violent or gentle - prove very strong points for the artist. The sketch gallery is better than most - in addition to various sketches of both this story and others, notes and an interview are interspersed in-between the drawings.

Certainly, Hudson provides a new twist on an old genre, one that for the most part proves rewarding. He has some work to do if he is to make this series more than just a gimmick and carry a bit more meaning, but he has set off on the right foot.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Historical books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews