Every so often, as a reviewer here at CBR, I get blessed with having a comic sent my way, completely out of the blue, just begging to be reviewed. "Reed Gunther and the Steak Snacking Snake" is one such book.
Reed Gunther is a gun-for-hire and happens to have a grizzly bear for a companion and steed. The first image I saw was the cover, with Reed heading off for parts unknown upon his trusty grizzly buddy, Sterling. The image was all I needed to see, and all I need to share.
Obviously, this is a comic book with more emphasis placed on "comic" than "book." It is a genuinely entertaining read that gave me just enough to want to see more. The Houghton brothers have created a fun character here with some great potential for more stories. As their text page in the back of this issue proclaims, this is their first foray into comics, but reading this book you wouldn't know as much.
Shane's story features Reed as a ne'er-do-well who happens upon Starla, a cattle-herder who is having some problems with her herd. Add in one misunderstood grizzly and you get some instant conflict that demands resolution to unite these characters against a common foe. All the while, Chris Houghton's art carries itself somewhere between the styles of Carlo Barberi and Mark Teague. While black-and-white, this book is still bright and accessible. The storytelling, visual sound effects, and pacing make it easy to follow. The story moves at a nice clip, without ever seeming unfulfilling.
"Reed Gunther" offers a few chuckles and some cute moments along the way. Except for one borderline sexual situation (Reed gets distracted by Starla's cleavage) this story could be handed off to younger readers. Some readers may not even catch on to that innuendo, but at least you can be aware of it and make the decision for yourself.
If you truly want to read a comic that is good, clean fun, completely unhinged from continuity, crossovers, or company agendas, then do yourself a favor and pick this book up if your path crosses Reed Gunther's (or his creators'). Trust me, you've spent $3 in worse ways before. This will help make up for it. Besides, when's the last time you read about a cowboy who rides a grizzly bear?