Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Daisy Kutter: The Last Train by Kazu Kibuishi

On page one of The Last Train, readers meet Daisy Kutter, owner of a general store, a severe scowl, and too much time on her hands. In her boredom she pulls a suction cup dart gun from the shelf. Then another. Daisy is also the owner of serious gun handling skills. She plasters everything in the store with rubber darts.

“Old habits die hard, don’t they?” asks Tom, the sheriff, as he arrives and witnesses the one-sided shootout.

Tom asks Daisy to help him co-marshal a poker game at a local watering hole that evening. Marshal? “You’ve got to be kidding, Tom. You’re still trying to turn me over to the dark side. To settle down like you. When you know I’d still rather play.” The look on Tom’s face shows his resignation to Daisy’s true character.

“Old habits die hard, don’t they?” Daisy throws Tom's question back at him.

Daisy makes the acquaintance of some colorful characters at the poker game who later make her an offer she can’t refuse. Rob one more train. Demonstrate that the latest security robots (Robots? More on that later.) are no match for an experienced train robber like Daisy. The reward? The return of all her poker losses – a significant sum – plus $350,000.

At first glance the story appears to be set in a traditional western town. But as Daisy walks out of her store, there is a 20 foot tall robot walker (picture this guy with four legs) in the street. One of the poker players is a robot, and when offered a job, Daisy clearly states, “I don’t work with machines.” No explanation is given – future, alternate history – but the differences fit seamlessly into the story and are immediately accepted by readers.

While Kazu Kibuishi’s Amulet books are wonderful for middle elementary readers, I’d be sure to keep Daisy Kutter on the young adult shelves. A run-down cat house and a female acquaintance who lives there, a bit of colorful language, an old flame, and some gruesome shootout scenes make appearances. Nevertheless, The Last Train is an action packed, train robbing, saloon door swinging, Old West story. With a futuristic twist.

For more information about reading graphic novels, and to see where I was introduced to Daisy Kutter, I highly recommend this article.

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