Published on September 14th, 2015 | by Noel Thorne0
Head Lopper #1 Review
Andrew MacLean’s pretty directly-titled comic Head Lopper lives up to its name within just a few pages as our barbarian hero, Norgal, decapitates an evil leviathan! It’s a fantasy adventure about a badass who lops the heads off monsters and carries around the decapitated (but still alive) head of Agatha Blue Witch, another apt name as she is, literally, a blue witch! It’s also a pretty good issue!
Like the names, MacLean’s stories get straight to the point: Norgal’s gotta fight a series of monsters to save the lands of Castlebay and Barra. That’s it! After the leviathan, it’s giant wolves, and then giant mountain lizards. if it seems like simple stuff, that’s because it is, but that doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable.
The action is fluidly drawn, kinetic and exciting. Because Norgal’s tiny in comparison to the giants he’s going up against, it means he has to be imaginative and quick with how he deals with the threats which leads to some dynamic panels. MacLean’s style reminds me a lot of Mike Mignola’s art (very much a good thing!), especially given the fantasy/monsters angle.
I love Mike Spicer’s work in general and his colours in Head Lopper are incandescent. Some of the pages have an eerie glow to them, the colours are so vivid. Really beautiful stuff. MacLean colours the third part of the issue and that looks great too – it’s such a good-looking comic!
The adventure genre, with the focus on story, means that the characters are a bit underwritten, particularly Norgal who is the barbarian archetype. Gruff and tough who rarely speaks, there’s not much to him besides being a sword-for-hire. Agatha is the comic relief, the sidekick who natters away because the hero doesn’t – that too is a bit stereotypical – and because she’s a dangerous witch, Norgal keeps her around so no-one else might get hexed by her. (That said, he’s pretty careless with the head in this issue!) What if he just dug a really, really deep hole and buried it? Also, I guess it’s ok to beat a woman if she’s a decapitated head?
Agatha Blue Witch is about the only thing approaching a long-term story as evil characters are after her because she’s powerful (apparently – we don’t see anything in this comic that points to that), which means more foes for Norgal to lop in the future. The series seems a little one dimensional so far but it’s only one issue in. Also, it’s called Head Lopper and it’s swords and sorcery action-centric so it’s probably expecting a bit too much for it to be too layered!
And let’s talk about the physical issue – it’s 80+ pages long! That’s like four regular sized issues in one! Hence the higher price tag and it’s quarterly publication schedule as it’s MacLean writing/drawing/colouring (though Spicer does the majority of the colouring) in the comic – basically, everything!
Head Lopper #1 is a wonderfully illustrated, fine first issue packed with fantasy and violence. The characters/setting/world-building and overall story are all a bit generic but it’s a fun read and if you like your fantasy comics, Head Lopper is definitely worth checking out.
Writer/Artist: Andrew MacLean
Colourist: Mike Spicer/Andrew MacLean