Comics / DC Comics History

The Man With No Name #1


By Andy Frisk
April 9, 2009 - 22:34

The Man With No Name, or “Blondie” as Tuco, the resident “Ugly” of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, calls him, is being pursued by Union troops for blowing up the supply bridge fought over by Union and Confederate troops at the end of the above mentioned movie, and by Confederate troops because he has a sizable portion of their money, also taken at the end of the movie. After a gunfight with said Union troops, Blondie escapes to the desert where he runs into the Father of the Mission where he rested up after an ordeal in the same desert during the events of the film. The Father is being chased by a small group of Union and Confederate troops who are actually more like bandits than soldiers. The Father tells Blondie that the Mission is surrounded by more bandits, and that the priests and wounded men “don’t stand a chance.” Blondie, having made quick work of the bandits, intends to care for the Father, but his wound is mortal. After giving the Father a Christian burial, and convincing himself he can do nothing for the men at the Mission he sets off across the desert, but Blondie was the resident “Good” of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, so it’s all too apparent that he will reverse course, and do what he can for the Mission.

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As a kid I loved The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, and still do to this day. When I was a youngster back in the days before Pay-Per-View, DVD or even VHS, circa the early ‘80’s, this classic of the “spaghetti westerns,” as they were called since they were filmed in Italy, often came on at 12am or 1am in the morning on local cable channels and my late Dad, who himself was a fanatic of westerns, and I would stay up and watch it together when it aired on the weekends. When I saw that Dynamite was coming out with a series based on the further adventures of Blondie, I had to check it out. I think that its safe to say that Dad would have had liked this series, since he also was the one to introduce me to the world of comic books, and that’s good enough reason for me to like it as well, but not the only reason.

 

This first issue has all the elements of the films that starred Clint Eastwood as the wandering Man With No Name. It’s pretty short on dialogue and pretty high on gunplay. There’s not a word spoken until page 6 of the issue. Blondie speaks on this page for the first time as well, and then not again until page 8. Gage and Dias’ reproduction of Blondie is pretty true to the version we get in the films. Along with the small amount of dialogue, we get several excellently drawn full, or near full pages of Blondie in action. Dias’ pencils and inks create detailed landscapes and outfits. His panel layouts help convey the action, tension, and passage of time. For example on page 17 the panels, all three of them which comprise the whole page, slant at odd angles, and are misshapen rectangles that trisect the page conveying the varied and slanting paths the wildly fired bullets make through the scenes of Blondie riding into this hail of lead. The next to final page of the issue, which conveys Blondie’s riding away from the Mission Father’s grave, then reversing course, is only four rectangular panels, the middle two of which are exactly the same. The top panel has Blondie riding in one direction, obviously away from the Mission, and the bottom panel has him riding in the opposite direction, obviously toward the Mission. The two identical panels in the middle perfectly convey the time elapsed, and the tension building in Blondie’s mind as he decides to go to the aid of the men at the Mission. It doesn’t take long for him to change his mind, just enough for the dust from the hooves of his horse to settle.

 

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So, for a comic based on a character so vividly and uniquely brought to life by director Sergio Leone, whose image of which defines our remembered collective pop cultural vision, how does this comic book treatment of Blondie hold up? Pretty well actually.  Blondie speaks very little with the exception of his long talk to himself at the end of the issue in an attempt to convince himself that he can do nothing for the Mission. When he does speak, we can almost hear Clint Eastwood’s rasp, and with the absence of any thought balloons he maintains that air of mystery since we never are privy to his inner thoughts. The relatively large panels and small amount of page division into panels, coupled with the full page spreads, help recreate Leone’s wide angled camera lens shots of the wide open deserts of Italy that served as the American Desert Southwest in the films. Even the relatively small use of sound effect blurbs are restricted to mostly gunshots, and Blondie’s in particular. This helps to visually recreate the sparse sounds in the films in many spots where a loud piercing gunshot was nearly the only sound. If we could just get a little of that classically great Ennio Morricone soundtrack playing somehow…

 

Overall, The Man With No Name gets off to a pretty good start, and warrants the picking up the next few issues or the inevitable trade at least. Like I said earlier, Dad would have liked it, and that’s good enough reason for me to be enamored with this nostalgic work but definitely NOT the only reason to be.

Rating: 9.5 /10


Last Updated: December 31, 2019 - 20:28

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