Review by Frank Plowright
When Rio started, Doug Wildey aligned it to the interesting concept of a very capable character with a shady past earning his pardon by using his reputation to carry out investigations on behalf of the US president. That had gone by Rio Rides Again, leaving Rio as a more standard Western hero, although involved in very interesting circumstances and using the Western legend Jesse James innovatively. Doc Holliday’s cameo here isn’t nearly as interesting, and a Dutch kid who’s a skilled card player is used to wedge two different stories together. The first has Rio as the guard on a stagecoach, and in the second he’s arrived in San Francisco and tries his luck in the local gambling establishment.
Given the plot is weaker, Rio at Bay stands more on the wonder of Wildey’s art. The storytelling is impeccable, with the visual standouts being the opening spread of a mining community, a great shot of the horses pulling a stagecoach as viewed from the driver’s seat, some detailed clippers and San Francisco as it looked in the 1870s from the hill down to the bay.
Rio at Bay reaches a neat conclusion, the art is spectacular and there are some interesting snippets of acquired Western law, but this third outing for Doug Wildey’s reformed outlaw is the weakest. It is also available combined with all other Rio material in Rio: The Complete Saga, but the reproductions there are from Wildey’s original pages, which are far more muted, so providing a different reading experience. It should also be noted that this collection is squarebound, but comic sized instead of the album format used for the two earlier Rio graphic novels.