Stern #1 De Doodbidder, De Zwerver en De Moordenaar – Comic Book Review
Follow Genre: Western
Written by: Frédéric Maffre
Illustrations: Julien Maffre
Coloring: Julien Maffre
Publisher: Dargaud

Stern #1 De Doodbidder, De Zwerver en De Moordenaar – Comic Book Review

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Rating: 10.0/10 (3 votes cast)

The wild west has always been home of many duels, epic robberies and of course the many local whorehouses. Often movies and other western themed stories revolve around those aspects, with a likeable gunslinger in the lead to fulfill the necessary macho quota. Even though these movies and stories have faded to the background over the last few years, ignoring Django Unchained, the genre could do with something new and refreshing. This is exactly what the next story tries to do by putting the local gravedigger in the lead of a new tale. Let’s hope Stern doesn’t get a too stern treatment and end up digging his own grave.


Elijah Stern, the local gravedigger in a backwater hole in Kansas in 1882, isn’t the most liked person in town. It wouldn’t even be an exaggeration to call him one of the most hated people in town, due to his line of work, as well as the fact that he likes being on his own most of the time. Even though his fellow townsmen can’t suppress their feelings of malcontent, Stern still performs his job as good as he can, whilst enjoying the many books he reads in his spare time. Little did Stern know that his way of life would soon change quite drastically, due to the last death in town, caused by alcohol intoxication, which occurred in the local brothel. Whilst everything seemed routine at first, when the wife of the victim, who is part of an organization that opposes alcohol, asks Elijah to remove his organs, to show the damage of extreme usage of alcohol, things turn from sketchy to even worse.

Even though cutting open a dead body was a punishable offense at the time, even for researching purposes, Stern discovers that Charles Bening, the victim, did not die of alcohol poisoning, but rather from suffocation. When Elijah confronts the sheriff with the facts, who isn’t all that happy with Stern playing detective, the companion lady Charles was with, a black girl named Mindy, gets dragged to jail and ‘confesses’ to everything. When Charles’ best friend enters Elijah’s life, Elijah slowly opens up. At least until things get even more confusing with the appearance of Charles’ brother-in-law.

Overall the flow of this story is just perfect for the detective theme at hand. You’ll get enough information and the clues you get throughout the story will often make you wonder who the actual culprit is. Luckily, the unusual lead character does work well for a story like this.

It’s clear that the war between north and south hasn’t ended that long ago, as the slaves have only recently been freed, but black people are still frowned upon. They are seen as animals and in this case, an easy target to get a written confession from. This undertone of black vs. white does make the story feel a bit more authentic for the time in which it takes place.

The story written by Frédéric Maffre might just be another murder mystery on paper, but in reality it feels like that much more, thanks to the writing and the different characters that suit the storyline rather well. Overall an inventive storyline from start to finish.

Illustrations were handled by Julien Maffre and the quality is top notch. The overall appearance is very realistic and very detailed, even with the odd shape of Elijah’s head. Even though the characters are already very delightful to look at, the background has a lot of detail as well.


Stern #1 De Doodbidder, De Zwerver en De Moordenaar is a great new series that breathes some new life into the western genre, albeit with a more than welcome twist. Exquisite illustrations go hand in hand with an elaborate and suspenseful plot, all whilst hoping to learn more about Stern himself, secretly wishing this odd detective finds some friends along the way. We certainly dig this one.

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Stern #1 De Doodbidder, De Zwerver en De Moordenaar - Comic Book Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 3 ratings

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