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Tag Archive: Dead Man’s Hand


Wynonna Earp gun

By Elizabeth C. Bunce

We at borg.com have been big fans of several recent series on SyFy, notably those coming from Canadian showrunner Emily Andras (Lost Girl, Killjoys).  Well, Andras is back with an all-new series that we previewed here that looks to be just as fun, once again with a powerful female lead.  Based on the IDW comic of the same name, Wynonna Earp is a paranormal Western, in the tradition of the anthology Dead Man’s Hand, (reviewed here) and borg.com favorite All-Star Western, featuring Jonah Hex (reviewed here).

On her twenty-seventh birthday, Earp family black sheep Wynonna (Melanie Scrofano, Haven, The Listener) returns home to Purgatory (presumably Alberta) to attend her uncle’s funeral, and inherit the family curse: She’s become the Earp Heir, the only person capable of wielding her great-great-granddaddy’s Colt .45 Buntline Special, known as “Peacemaker.”  See, Purgatory and the Earps are haunted by the ghosts–or Revenants–of Sherriff Wyatt Earp’s kills.  And every generation of Earps must hunt down the undead again, until all 77 have been dispatched for good.  The trouble is, Wynonna wasn’t actually the Heir–that dubious honor ought to have belonged to elder sister Willa.  But Willa and their father were killed by Revenants when Wynonna was just a kid, leaving Purgatory, Wynonna, and younger sister Waverly unprotected.

Doc Holliday Wynonna Earp

The series has just aired its third episode (Episode 4 airs Friday, April 22), and it’s off to a fantastic start.  Andras has a great knack for blending excellent worldbuilding, sci-fi and paranormal elements, winning characters, and humor.  Scrofano is sharp-tongued and swaggering, a perfect modern-day gunslinger, and she’s backed up with an excellent supporting cast.  Shamier Anderson (Defiance) plays Agent Dolls, special agent of the Black Badge Division, a sort of Men in Black-style “cross-border” paranormal task force, and Dominique Provost-Chalkley as overeager little sister Waverly is a funny and delightful sidekick.  But the standout is Tim Rozon (Being Human, Lost Girl) as the mysterious Henry, immediately identifiable (though not identified) as the ghost of Doc Holliday, sporting a lazy drawl and unclear motives that make him absolutely captivating–utterly unrecognizable from his vile Lost Girl character.

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Dead Mans Hand cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

Who would have thought we’d be discussing a book in the second decade of the 21st century featuring new stories of the Old West?  Titan Books has released such a work with Dead Man’s Hand: An Anthology of the Weird West, bringing together short stories from 23 authors that mash-up the Old West with science fiction, fantasy, steampunk, and horror.

The Dead Man’s Hand is of course the legendary card hand last held by Wild Bill Hickok when he was shot down by Jack McCall in Deadwood, South Dakota back in 1876.  The superstitions carried forward by those cards–believed to be black aces and eights–fuels the magic and “weird” behind the stories in this compilation.

Fans of Louis L’Amour who may have open minds for the extremes of what might qualify as an Old West story should find at least a few good tales in Dead Man’s Hand.  Like Mike Resnick’s story “The Hell-bound Stagecoach,” set in Arizona Territory circa 1885, it chronicles riders in a stagecoach who don’t quite remember how they ended up on the road bound for somewhere, as they encounter a proper lady who happens to be a good cook along the way.  Resnick’s story is steeped in classic lore of the Old West era.

Jeff Bridges as Wild Bill Hickok

Editor John Joseph Adams attempts to summarize the genre in his introduction as having its roots in the works of Robert E. Howard, Gene Autry’s serial The Phantom Empire, and the 1970s series The Wild, Wild, West, but Adams could look back farther to cowboy lore–stories created and shared by those stranded in desert storms, creations of the lost, hungry and thirsty, like those seeing mirages.  Like the story that would become Ghost Riders in the Sky, written by Stan Jones in 1948.  Jones recalled the story was first told to him back around 1926, and certainly that story was among many Old West tomes of the oral tradition circulating back to even before the Civil War.  Regardless of the earliest sources for such stories, they still entertain audiences in a world of cell phones, space travel, and the Internet.

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