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Bloody Chester by J.T. Petty; Illustrated by Hilary Florido

Bloody Chester by J.T. Petty; Illustrated by Hilary Florido

Chester Kate's been hired to burn the town of Whale to the ground. Every last building must be razed so the railroad can push on through. Bloody Chester is about to make his mark in the only way he knows how. Maybe then everyone will stop using his other nickname: Lady Kate.

He doesn't have to worry about Whale's citizens. Most of them are already dead from the plague. They call the sickness Coyote Waits. "Waits" because it eats you from the inside. "Coyote" because...well because there's a lot of coyotes out there in the West. 

Chester arrives at the town and starts rounding up the few citizens left. They have mostly locked themselves inside. Getting the survivors out should be easy enough. 

Nothing is as easy as it seems, though.

The job is complicated by Caroline, a fiercely independent woman who refuses to leave her father. The old man has been camping in a nearby cavern, rabidly shooting at anyone who dares to approach.

Chester must navigate this testy situation with grace or else lose his head. Between the plague, the violent father, and the mysterious beastlike figures that have been following Chester in the night, there's a lot to be vigilant for. As he deals with the multitude of issues, Chester finds himself becoming more emotionally involved with Caroline. He also finds that Coyote Waits is not what it appears to be.

J.T. Petty's graphic novel is a hard-drinkin', tough-talkin', town burnin' revisionist Western that lies somewhere in between Unforgiven and True Grit. It can't be called a "fun ride." Still, the half-starved figures of desperation that inhabit this world are worth following, if only to see how it can possibly end all right for them. Hilary Florido's art helps convey the story over multiple dialogue-free pages, accurately capturing the desolation. It is a well-crafted tale that lingers with you long after the embers burn out.