Dave Dorman’s Wasted Lands is definitely a treat for fans of this artist. But those new to his work (such as myself) may be a bit mystified by this odd collection, a group of disparate items (novella, color comic, BW comic, several different illustrators) whose only relationship to each other is a very interesting diesel punk old west world. I loved the idea of the setting but the characters, story, and especially the art was very problematic; it felt very dated to the late 1980s despite the old West/dieselpunk trappings.
Story: In an alternate universe American old West where diesel/piston driven engines developed earlier and faster, cowboys drive Harleys and trains rule the country. In this dystopian world, rail barons are the real tyrants and few can stand up to them. Enter a wide range of fantastical (even magical/historical) characters all battling for control or just survival in the Badlands.
This omnibus has 6 parts: The Rail color comic, Edge (a BW comic from the 1990s), Skinners (BW horror/soft porn line drawings that was published in Penthouse), Death Before Breakfast (a pulp novella with a few illustrations), The Vessel (a text only web serial originally but with a couple of images here), and then short story Monkey Business, a quick color comic using the same universe but featuring a zombie.
What I found interesting is how little of the book is actually Dave Dorman art or storytelling. There are the original 46 pages of Rail. But after that, it is all guest storytellers and artists all using the Wasted Lands universe – perhaps with a few Dorman art pieces in between. As well, those looking for a graphic novel may be surprised that a good chunk of the book is a novel with only occasional images.
As for the Waste Lands universe, I loved the premise and a lot of the execution. But had problems with the art/characters. It was all so very…1980s; as if someone had taken 1980s characters and put some 1930s clothes on them but forgot to restyle hair and accessories to either old west cowboy or depression era diesel engineer. I fully understand that an anachronistic alternate universe can be loosely defined; however, the 1980s references made sense only from the influence of the period in which this was written (1989 or so) rather than aspects of the story itself. The guys were studly in the 1930s or Cowboy gear but the women scantily dressed in ball gags, bondage, and spandex made no sense to me at all. I had a crazy urge to go put on some Duran Duran while reading this. Honestly, it was such a let down from what I had hoped would be a crazy cool diesel punk universe.
I came into this from an angle of loving the whole Dieselpunk idea and especially in a graphic novel format. I wasn’t familiar with Dave Dorman’s work (ironically, I left Magic: The Gathering in 2001 so I never saw his art on cards, either). So from my perspective, especially considering all the bondage girls and Penthouse-influences, this did disappoint. Dorman fans will likely rate this higher and guys should enjoy all the copious amounts of violence and T&A. As for me, I was underwhelmed.
Reviewed from an ARC.