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Redemption

Redemption
Christa Faust
Mike Deodato
Lee Loughridge
AWA Upshot
$9.99

Redemption is post apocalyptic Western hybrid that rises above the numerous doomsday stories that have proliferated since the debut of George Miller and Byron Kennedy’s Mad Max’s debut more than forty years ago thanks to the skill and talent of its creators, Christa Faust, Mike Deodato, and Lee Loughridge.

A despot named Stonewater rules over the townspeople of Redemption with authoritarianism and his vindictive brand of Christianity. Backing up Stonewater is the equally cruel Sheriff Gage who, as the son of the first sheriff, proves the “like father like son” adage. The town’s only doctor, Inez Obregon, has been a continual thorn for Stonewater. Stonewater wants to be rid of Obregon and seizes the opportunity when the doctor commits what he considers to be an unpardonable sin and in turn sparks Obregon’s daughter Rose to search for the fearsome Cat Tanner in a bid to save her mother.

Desperate times call for desperate measures and Cat Tanner wants nothing to do with it.

Redemption grabbed my attention from several different angles. First is the trio of women and their intertwined relationships on which Faust builds her genre subverting narrative. In storytelling the mother daughter dynamic is quite often built on strife. Here it’s made of love and self sacrifice. Inez, who has carved out a small place for her and Rose to exist, is willing to die to keep her daughter safe and Rose is willing to risk everything to save her mother. Coming of age just as society is quickly unraveling, Cat Tanner relied on her wits to stay alive on the streets before becoming a hired gun whose skill and ruthless efficiency would earn a dreaded reputation and “the Butcher” as a nickname. Content to live in isolation now, Tanner never gave a a damn what anyone thought of her life and she’s determined not to start now when a stranger appears begging for help. Without giving away anything, Faust develops a bond between Rose and a very reluctant Tanner from which she the strengths, vulnerabilities, and secrets of both women. Most poignant of these revelations is the only time in Tanner’s life knew happiness; a philosophical difference ending her secret relationship with a woman.

 

Tanner could never be mistaken as a saint but she was never motivated by evil, greed, and power as Stonewater and the sheriff are. Faust uses this pair to embody some of the worst traits of humanity we’ve seen in recent history: misogyny, women’s reproductive rights, rape, Fascist ideology, and profiting from human suffering. In Redemption’s case the matter of profiteering is a cautionary commentary on climate change and those in positions of authority who exploit both naturals resources and the general population for continued power and wealth. Faust also sidesteps the preachiness that can bog down stories involving human rights and current events however good the creators’ intentions are.

Let me assure you that Redemption is more than talking heads. Even if it were it would still be an interesting read in its own right. These character moments are effortlessly balanced with high energy kick ass action sequences all brought to life by the art team of Mike Deodato Jr and Lee Loughridge. Right from the start Deodato’s cinematic style draws the eye in with a wide angle long shot of the god forsaken town of Redemption then tightens the focus with each following panel the crowd of townspeople gathered to witness Stonewater whipping Obregon. Deodato continued this use of a combination of wide angle far, medium, and close up shots alternately to push the reader through the fighting and action and then slow down to linger over the quiet moments. Lee Loughridge perfectly captures the moods by alternating between warm and cool color palettes and naturalistic lighting. I go back and forth page to page, chapter to chapter and find myself drawn into every scene because the line art and color art are just so mesmerizingly perfect.

Reading Redemption felt and looked to me like a big screen action movie that didn’t release its grip till the very end and then left me wanting more. The last time I felt this way was  earlier this year while watching South Korean director Kim Jee-woon’s frenetic Western The Good, The Bad, The Weird. Check out Redemption if you like action oriented movies and comics, strong female protagonists, and unapologetic queer characters in comics.

Read Cat Tanner’s profile here.

Ask for Redemption at your local comic shop (Diamond order code JUL211416) or local/ independent book store (ISBN-10: 1953165192or ISBN-13: 978-1953165190). Redemption can also be purchased in print or digital from Amazon.

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