By Brandy Dykhuizen. A story of atonement set against a backdrop of nightmares and supernatural forces, Thousand Faces follows a 19th Century doctor from London as he sets off slogging across the heated lonely plains of South Dakota. In a brutal land known to be filled with hostile inhabitants, Quinn must find ways to survive with only “two mules, a rifle, and ten bullets.” Yet he describes his journey, punctuated by dehydration, fever dreams, subsisting on rotting flesh, and brutal heat, as a mere purgatory. From what hell did he escape to consider his present situation a mere waiting room?
After taking over a dead man’s cabin and having the good luck to kill a large rat for dinner, Quinn finds himself in the tail end of a fracas between a pair of cougars, a mustang and a handful of Sioux. After killing one of the cougars that seems like it just won’t die, Quinn is able to flex his old world doctor skills and revive the dying Indian chief with his own blood. The two manage to cling to life long enough to forge a lasting bond, affording Quinn some protection in the unruly lands.
Saving lives by way of a blood transfusion amounted to witchcraft in the 19th century, and in the world of Thousand Faces those parochial claims certainly hold water. Pursued by an all-too familiar monster who takes many forms and is agonizingly slow to kill, Quinn finds that the Sioux tribe with whom he’s taken up has long prophesied the demon’s coming. His presence among them is a double-edged sword — he brought luck to the tribe by saving the chief, but as long as he is there, Thousand Faces isn’t far behind.
Moral decay affects the characters throughout the tale, sparing few men and even grabbing a few supposedly innocent animals in its clutches. While the art is undoubtedly beautiful and the characters carefully developed, at times it can feel more like an overly drawn-out campfire story than the sweeping epic it aspires to be. Brilliant colors and textures make sure our imaginations don’t shy too far away from the brutal realities of death, but the excitement level is paced closer to that of Quinn’s mule than the chief’s prized mustang.
Written by Philippe Thirault.
Art by Marc Males and Mario Janni.
Colors by Marc Males, Scarlett Smulkowski, Jean-Jacques Rouger, and N@R.
Translated by Natacha Ruck, Sasha Watson, and Lindsay King.
Cover by Paul Pope.
6.5 out of 10