Review by Karl Verhoven
Streets of Glory is a valedictory trip to the dying days of the old West. Montana is a last holdout, as while primitive cars have arrived, the railroad hasn’t, but businessman Charles Morrison and his entourage are in Gladback, indicating plans are afoot. Also in Gladback is Joe Dunn, a legendary old time gunslinger with a formidable reputation who now finds he has one last score to settle. We see Dunn in action over the first chapter, proving his reputation before hearing about it, but that reputation is something Dunn himself cares little for, seeing himself as a man who’s always just done what’s needed to be done, and suspicious of those who’d build him up. Adding complications are Gladback not only playing host to the bar run by his old mate, but also the home of the woman he left twenty years previously.
Garth Ennis takes a very cinematic approach to fostering a legend, Clint Eastwood’s distrusting loner an influence despite Dunn looking completely different as designed by Mike Wolfer. Ennis doesn’t go overboard in giving Dunn smart one liners, and he’s more real for that, but there are pithy comments and the occasional moment of weary insight, “I’m scared I fought hard for this country only to hand it to fools” being one. Ennis also introduces Dunn’s generational successor, Terminator Mk 2 if you will, allied to the future via commerce rather than any other principle, and the contrast is telling. Because Ennis is playing with archetypes he successfully hangs a sense of foreboding over Streets of Glory. Everything is pointing to the end of an era, underlined by Morrison’s presence, and Dunn resents his redundancy.
There’s a definite sensitivity to the plot, but Wolfer’s not a good enough artist to bring it out, despite preferring to draw people in profile and close-up in preference to a more effective distance that would require backgrounds. The people are lumpy, poorly constructed, and their expressions not as telling as they ought to be. Dunn is written as tight lipped and keeping his feelings and opinions close, but the remainder of the cast needed bringing out far more. The one person Wolfer hits a strike with is Red Crow, savage and revelling it, although this being an Avatar title, there’s no holding back with the gore.
Ennis has served up Western mythology before, the Saint of Killers in Preacher coming to mind, and while what he’s getting at with Streets of Glory can be filtered through the art, it would have been far more powerful with a more intuitive artist.