Review by Ian Keogh
Wynonna Earp began a run on TV in 2016, easily summed up as Men in Black with supernatural elements replacing the aliens. It proved a popular blend and was renewed for a second season, but Beau Smith’s creation had taken well over a decade to reach the TV screens, and this very primitive original version shares only the basic premise with her TV counterpart.
Sheriff Wynonna Earp is used to folk getting out of hand at the local bar on a Saturday night. What’s new is an unkillable being who knows her. That’s her introduction to the world of Black Badge Division, the covert government department dealing with supernatural occurrences. It transpires there’s been bad blood between her family and the demon world extending back to the time of her great grandfather Wyatt Earp well over a century previously, and the time has come for Wynonna to step up to the status of Marshall.
This workable premise is instantly undermined after the introduction by presenting Wynonna turning up for business half-dressed in gear sourced from Ann Summers. As portrayed by Joyce Chin (featured art) she’s perpetually posing as if for some lingerie shoot, and very possibly copied from such. Chin’s otherwise more accomplished art is a real switch of style from the preceding scratchy and amateur pages by Luis Diaz, and at the time she was some find, her talent shining through the atrocious style prioritising big images. There’s a second switch of artist to Pat Lee for the final two chapters and his storytelling’s better than Chin while his basic technique doesn’t match hers. He’s also working in a 1990s style featuring dozens of extraneous lines on every illustration.
Different artists work as Beau Smith is telling three separate stories. A form of origin is followed by a tale of drug-induced monstrosities, after which something mysterious is wiping out the heads of crime syndicates across the globe. Smith’s not one for providing any great surprises in his plots, figuring that babe versus monsters is what people want to see, and considering he now has a TV series and you don’t, who’s to say he was wrong about that? His dialogue is very strained at times as he attempts to force smart comments into most situations, but this isn’t reality we’re dealing with.
The Wynonna Earp that appears in the next collection, The Yeti Wars, is far closer to her eventual TV incarnation by virtue of wearing clothes for one, and both collections are now combined by IDW as Strange Inheritance with this content now coloured rather than black and white.