Shaolin Cowboy Returns, and Things Are Gonna Get Ugly

Shaolin Cowboy Returns, and Things Are Gonna Get Ugly
Inset of Shaolin Cowboy: Cruel to Be Kin #1 by Geof Darrow. (Image: Dark Horse Comics)

Geof Darrow has worked with the legendary illustrator Moebius, partnered with Frank Miller on the Eisner Award-winning Hard Boiled, and helped the Wachowskis tailor the look of the first Matrix film. But his most beloved — and certainly his weirdest — creation has to be Shaolin Cowboy, a tale of an ex-monk who travels a surreal version of the American West full of demonic gourmets, crustacean mob bosses, and a great many dinosaurs. Now the Cowboy is coming back to Dark Horse for a new series titled Cruel to Be Kin, and, come on, that lizard is holding a gun in its tail.

io9’s excited to give you a first look at Cruel to Be Kin, the next chapter of Darrow’s martial arts adventures. The ebullient official synopsis for the seven-issue series is as follows: “The series is set in Phase 4 of the SCU, where the Shaolin Cowboy finds his parenting skills being tested when he is forced to homeschool during a pandemic of unparalleled violence, in a story torn from yesterday’s viral Twitter feeds. Can he get a kung fu grip on the situation before a horde of .45-loving human monsters and not-so-human monsters send him to the ICU? Only guns, swords, and flying guillotines will tell!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Shaolin Cowboy: Cruel to Be Kin #1 variant cover by Mike Mignola. (Image: Dark Horse Comics)Shaolin Cowboy: Cruel to Be Kin #1 variant cover by Mike Mignola. (Image: Dark Horse Comics)

With help from colorist Cameron Stewart, this will be the third Shaolin Cowboy series Darrow has made with Dark Horse, the first two being titled Shemp Buffet and Who’ll Stop the Reign. The writer/artist considers Cruel to Be Kin the third in a trilogy, as he says in an statement provided to Gizmodo over email:

This is my third book in a trilogy I began with Shemp Buffet, continued with Who’ll Stop the Reign, and headed into with the massive pile up on Route 666 that is Cruel to Be Kin.

It is kind of my The Good, The Bad, The Ugly with Shemp being The Good, Reign being The Ugly, and Kin being The Bad! See how I mixed it up? Clever, huh? I worked hard coming up with that switch.

This series is also my love letter to four of my favourite film directors Sergio Leone, Kenji Misumi, Tsui Hark, and Sam Raimi. Hope it’s not a Return to Sender.

Shaolin Cowboy: Cruel to Be Kin #1 variant cover by Alice Darrow, Geof's daughter. (Image: Dark Horse Comics)Shaolin Cowboy: Cruel to Be Kin #1 variant cover by Alice Darrow, Geof’s daughter. (Image: Dark Horse Comics)

Seriously, Darrow is beloved in the world of comic artists and beyond, which is why the series will have a multitude of variant covers by a veritable who’s who of stars including Hellboy’s Mike Mignola, All-Star Superman’s Frank Quitely, Hip Hop Family Tree’s Ed Piskor, Usagi Yojimbo’s Stan Sakai, frequent Wachowskis collaborator Steve Skroce, Blood: The Last Vampire’s Katsuya Terada, the aforementioned Hong Kong movie mega-director/producer Tsui Hark, and more.

The first issue of Shaolin Cowboy: Cruel to Be Kin arrives in comic stores on May 18.


Editor’s Note: Release dates within this article are based in the U.S., but will be updated with local Australian dates as soon as we know more.