Anyone’s love for Shemp Buffet will depend on their love of Geof Darrow’s art. What you’re getting here is stunningly drawn, but it’s also a succession of small variations on the same theme. In a book where plot is very much a minor concern this won’t have universal appeal.

The previous Shaolin Cowboy collection ended mid-story. Darrow provides a text introduction every bit as dense and detailed as his art giving all sorts of extraneous background in amusing fashion. For those unwilling to undertake the entire meandering journey, it’s the final paragraph that contains the necessary connecting information.

The short is that it took our hero six years to escape from the belly of the beast, and if he didn’t do so alone, then neither is there any sight of the talking mule. The others that have escaped in his wake are zombies, thousands of them. Being a responsible type, the Shaolin Cowboy knows he has to clean up after himself, and spends the remaining 120 pages doing so.

Here we hit the problem. Darrow’s illustration is wonderful, but there’s very little variety. One sequence is 21 double page spreads, each separated into two widescreen landscape illustrations, of the Shaolin Cowboy and his bizarre double-ended chainsaw device setting about the tattooed zombies. It’s a very deliberate effect as if an action movie has been paused on DVD, then every tenth frame illustrated. There are four pages of respite (one of them a dps) before we hit a 12 spread sequence of the Cowboy agilely running over the heads of the zombies, squishing as he goes. Whereas the previously noted sequence had a balletic continuity, here, however much the zombie poses are shifted, this is 24 pages of essentially the same composition.

Darrow’s patience, self-indulgence and persistence in creating this has to be admired, but in the end it’s 134 beautifully drawn and packaged pages of a single fight scene. Even at very reasonable cover price for a hardback, it’s surely of interest only to those who’ll study the art.