Written by Gary Phillips and illustrated by Brian Hurtt, the novel opens with a showdown between the two cowboys, and then flashes back to three weeks earlier. In a brilliant touch of writing, the creative team sets up two narratives, a pairing that’s ironic and complex.
Cowboys has steady pacing, especially as Brady and Kotte dig deep into the seedy underbellies of their sources. It’s controlled by Hurtt’s mix of two-, three- and four-panel pages, complemented by Phillips’ knack for writing witty, foul-mouthed characters.
However, the graphic novel’s ending feels rushed and messy, similar to the blood-and-guns climax of Martin Scorsese’s The Departed. Phillips and Hurtt weave the lawmen’s investigations together well, but the fates of Brady and Kotte collide and unravel in less than 10 pages, offering little resolution for both parties. Neither rides off into a beautiful sunset. Grade: B