Taking a cast of fabled Wild West heroes and anti-heroes and depositing ‘em into a near future Nevada, Radical Comics’ five-ish “mature readers” mini-series Earp: Saints for Sinners is an agreeably foul-mouthed actioner set in an all-too-plausible Depression Era where Las Vegas is “the only boom town left” in America and the world has reverted to rough-hewn pistol-packin’ justice.
The comic follows former U.S. Marshall Wyatt Earp and his pal Doc Holliday as they come up against outlaws, thuggish Pinkerton agents (a.k.a. “Pinks”) and corrupt city politicians in this new/old frontier. Out title lead, Wyatt, has retired from law enforcement at the start of the story to run his own casino, the A-One Hotel and Saloon, when the reappearance of his headstrong brother Morgan Earp shoves him once more into the fray. Morgan has hooked up with celebrity bank robber Jesse James to get into the redistribution of wealth business — none too surprisingly, a full-blown market crash has heightened the disparity between haves and have-nots even more distinctly — and his presence in Las Vegas provides the Pinks an excuse to try strong-arming the ex-lawman. You just know this is gonna piss Wyatt off.
Writers M. Zachary Sherman and Matt Cirulnick take the familiars of basic Western conflict and add enough doses of modern cop drama (courtesy of a Doc Holliday flashback involving dirty fellow cops) plus dystopian s-f to keep things interesting. A trio of artists (Mack Chater, Martin Montiel, and Colin Lorimer) tackles the visuals, making boomtown Las Vegas look as grimly dark as the urban landscape in Blade Runner. If the first issue’s two big action scenes — a flashback train robbery and an assault on Wyatt’s home — come across more murkily chaotic than necessary, the aftermath of each is strong enough to keep us reading. Earp: Saints for Sinners may not break any new ground, but it mixes things up with heaps of storytelling enthusiasm.