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Cowboys and Aliens (Graphic Novel, 2006)

The graphic novel that is set to become a film in 2011

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The Graphic Novel That Has Become A Major Motion Picture...."Hype ON"!!

  • Apr 18, 2011
I know there has been a lot of ‘hype’ surrounding the upcoming film “Cowboys and Aliens” so I figured perhaps it is time for me to review the actual graphic novel written by Fred Van Lente and Andrew Foley, with art illustrated by Luciano Lima. When I first saw the trailers for the film, I have to admit I wasn’t very excited since the source material created by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg (the chairman of Platinum Studios and co-producer of the Jon Favreau film) needed a lot of development and I wasn’t very impressed (I actually never intended to review It before). I thought that the concept of the graphic novel wasn’t very inspired; but hey, this can be a good thing since it gives the movie more material to expand on.

The graphic novel (2006) was inspired by the cartoon by Gary Larson and resembles the 1995 16-page ashcan by Tom Arvis and published by Sureshot comics. Rosenberg loves creative writers and championed Lowell Cunningham’s “Men in Black” to be published under the label Malibu comics; this then went on to become a successful film and a cartoon series in the 90’s. Wonder if “Cowboys and Aliens” will have the same success?



A chaotic time in American history, 1873, the native Americans are constantly in a struggle with the white men who had colonized their land. But when an alien spaceship crash lands on the Arizona desert, a strike force led by Commander Rado Dar mounts an assault on the people of Earth and both white men and the Apache Indians are their intended victims. Dar’s forces have taken down a contingent of the union army and even decimated a part of the Apache tribe. Zeke, a woman named Verity and the townsfolk of the once-booming “Silver city” must join forces with the Apache (Warhawk and No-name included) so they could fight off the alien invasion. They find an ally with an alien named Ra Chak Kai, but can she help them overcome Dar’s forces with their more advanced technology?

Jon Favreau (director of Iron Man) has his work cut out for him. Truth be told, I wasn’t that impressed with what he did with the movie adaptation of Iron Man (the sequel was pretty mediocre) and the upcoming “Cowboys and Aliens” film would be a test to his mettle. But let’s focus on the graphic novel shall we? “Cowboys and Aliens” should’ve been “Cowboys, and Indians Unite” since it has the theme of a civilization being threatened of being dominated and their right to exist eliminated. There is nothing special about the premise. It touches on some themes ‘being conquered” and how the white men applied similar rules of dominance as the alien forces; as in using their superior technology and resources to bend anyone to their will.

The alien technology used by the Caste are advance but there is nothing majorly different to what we have seen before. They have anti-gravity tech that allows them to fly with their small vehicles, energy that is so malleable that it can be formed into other things such as a net, a whip and other things. The aliens have explosives too, and of course, they do have a special firearm that has numerous settings. (The Setting used at the climax is pretty cool). I am not sure, these aliens looked like bulls-crossed with Predators and linebackers; they are intelligent but they rely more on their power than on strategy. These aliens aren’t very bright, and makes me wonder how they managed to conquer other worlds.

Truth, be told, the way the alien weaponry is portrayed seemed primed to be used by the humans. The humans’ only chance would be to use their advance tech and I found this so convenient that the way they came across them were so unimaginative. I am not sure, parts of the writing felt a little too predictable and way too easy. I know that perhaps it was just following the groundwork of past alien-western films (ahem) but I found this a little lazy. There is also the possibility that the graphic novel was intended for the casual comic fan, who’ll rave about anything they come across. Being a comic book veteran I found myself looking for more. There is nothing imaginative as to how the script flows, it was all too easy and I am very afraid for the plot of the film. My only hope would be that it will be dark and gritty, otherwise why even bother?

The graphic novel feels too formulaic and the characters are mere staples of the ones we’ve seen in westerns; aliens and humans alike. The graphic novel does try to inject a darkness to it, but the art by Lima (while good) wasn’t intended to be dark, gritty or even intense. The book feels very cartoonish and lacks the ‘punch’ needed to portray a species under the threat of being decimated. The dialogue was alright, it tries to exude that western ambiance and while it did, it resembled something more of a Saturday morning cartoon.

I really am not certain how optimistic I can be to the film adaptation. It does show promise and I saw several changes to the plot already from its trailers. Only time will tell. I do hope that the film would expand a lot more to its concept and make it a more believable film. But with what I’ve seen, Favreau may be the right one for the job. After all, this graphic novel wasn’t as engaging as the Iron Man film’s source material. I am betting on a highly commercial film bent on displaying special effects. I am hoping for the best and there is a lot of room to expand on this somewhat juvenile premise.

The “Cowboys and Aliens” graphic novel gets a 3 out of 5, I cannot fully recommend it for real comic book fans, but it can be fun for teens and kids. Here's hoping the movie will be better!

The Graphic Novel That has Become a Major Motion Picture....

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August 18, 2011
Excellent and fun to read review. Thaks for posting it. Mike
April 18, 2011
As a comic, this seems too pulpy and as a film, it would probably have worked if the special effects had been intentionally cheesy. I don't know, maybe I'm just not a big fan of Westerns or dinosaurs. LOL!
April 18, 2011
For me, it feels like your typical Saturday morning cartoon, and seeing as it was inspired by a cartoon, then maybe it was on target. Doesn't mean I have to like it, but it was just the way it was. I like westerns, but reading the graphic novel, I have very low expectations for the movie. They'll have to really divert from the source material to make it more compelling....at least for me.
April 18, 2011
thought you liked Raptors LOL!
April 18, 2011
LOL! I like Spaghetti Westerns, but the typical western I find to be cheesy. "Magnificent Seven" was awesome though!
April 18, 2011
I would be happy if this turned out like Raimi's Quick and the Dead. LOL!
April 18, 2011
I loved that flick. Only way Raimi could have improved on it is if it starred Bruce Campbell and had him fighting the Evil Dead! Think of that... "Army of Darkness" as a western!
April 18, 2011
I feel so warm and fuzzy now. There was a vampire western flick that had potential but the wirter and director just couldn't pull it off.
April 19, 2011
seen BloodRayne 2 with Natasha Malthe?
April 19, 2011
The first one was so bad I skipped it. There have been some good western vampire films though not many. "Curse of the Undead" from 1959 was a cool take on the vampire myth set in the Old West.
April 18, 2011
You make the premise sound pedestrian, but then again I don't read a lot of comic books. I'm sure the movie will at least be fun to look at and watch.
April 18, 2011
Yeah, honestly, I was quite surprised why this graphic novel got picked by Dreamworks of all the other titles out there (then again, its potentials for marketability is huge, with action figures, cartoons and comics can easily be promoted). The good thing is, I know the movie will have to be better; judging from the trailer, there already has been some major changes from the source material....and I think they may be for the best. I got the vibe that the movie will have an attitude which I liked. PLus it has Olivia Wilde LOL!!
April 18, 2011
I have yet to read this but I have a feeling that the film will be fun.
April 18, 2011
I hope so. The graphic novel wasn't bad, but I sure am hoping for more in the film. This was like a Saturday morning cartoon. Good for what it was, but way a lot more to expand on.
More Cowboys and Aliens (Graphic No... reviews
Quick Tip by . April 18, 2011
A Little Too Juvenile and Uninspired for my tastes, but I have to admit it can find its audience. However, veteran comic book fans will be better off looking elsewhere. Good News is: it gives the movie a lot of room to improve on the concept and premise. So the movie can be better....
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About this book


Cowboys & Aliens is a 100-page Platinum Studios 2006 graphic novel created by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg and written by Fred Van Lente and Andrew Foley, with penciler Luciano Lima.

Cowboys and Aliens: Worlds at War (or Cowboys & Aliens II)[2] is a 2007 online-only extension of the graphic novel. It is written by Alana Joli Abbott.

Inspired by a Gary Larson cartoon[citation needed], the title matches that of a 1995 16-page ashcan, published by Tom Arvis and Sureshot Comics. In 1998 Platinum Studios trademarked the name, and in 2004, through a separate agreement, negotiated all rights to the title from Arvis, who changed the name of his book to Wayout West
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Genre: Western, Adventure, Science Fiction
Format: Graphic novel

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