To those familiar with Z.M. Thomas’s work, you might be expecting a healthy wallop of humor to go with the starkness of the cover you see above. Yet this new book is something different. In
SIOUX FALLS, he plays it pretty straight.
This time out, he’s here to tell a grim story of vengeance. Remember how in the
‘Seventies, we used to get movies about the hero who gets severely wounded and
left for dead by the bad guy, only to heal and come back for revenge?
He is a Dakota living in District 32, aka Sioux
Falls. For ten years, he has been haunted by the
brutal murder of his parents and brother, and tonight he is finally going to
get his vengeance. He takes a few drinks, hides his gun and heads down to the
bar where the notorious General George Armstrong hangs out. He has one goal in
his life: kill Gen. Armstrong, the murderer of his family. He doesn’t even plan
on escaping the bar, just so long as he gets to see the life fade from
Naturally, things don’t work out for
Kota, and he winds up just like a ‘Seventies
hero with a bullet in his guts, left to die out in the middle of nowhere.
Except . . . you know he’s not going to die out there. No, he can’t let Gen.
Armstrong get away with this. This is only the first issue of the book. Judging
from the tone, there is plenty of blood and revenge in store for us.
Thomas is doing something very different here, although it is no less researched than his other, more humorous projects. In asides, he offers translations and historical notes. He’s not fucking around here. This is his story about the systematic racism that has nearly destroyed Native Americans. You see, this is about more than just a revenge story. This is about a great wrong that was done to an entire people by our very own government, and it’s a wrong that is still being done to this very day. It’s not necessarily as violent as it once was, but go to a reservation sometime. Take a look around. You will see people who are broken and isolated and all but forgotten.
If that’s not enough to convince you, take a look at the wonderful artwork. It is perfect for this kind of story: grim, dark and rough. Take a look at Gen. Armstrong. Look familiar? Kids today probably don’t know what the rest of Custer’s name was . . .
Hell, one look at the cover should convince you that reading this book is the right thing to do. We’re only 26 pages in. Could you imagine what else Thomas has waiting in the wings for us?
Do yourself a favor. If you’re at Wizard World Chicago this weekend, look him up and buy it in person. If you’re not, then go here and get your fix right now.