By Svetlana Fedotov
Boy, do I sure love me some sword fantasy! Over the top monsters, bare-chested swordsmen, forged and broken alliances, and more wolves than you can shake a stick at. Head Lopper has all that in spades! Image Comics’ newest fantasy release, Head Lopper follows the traditional manly man of barbarian tropes and pits him against, well, monsters bigger and larger than him. Alright, it’s not super original, but it’s a fun, solid read that creates its own mythology and has no qualms about splattering the pages in blood and really, isn’t that what’s best in life?
The comic begins on the Isle of Barra, a small fishing town that is over-run with monsters. Enter the Head Lopper (though ‘Norgal will do just fine, thanks’), a shirtless warrior who immediately jumps in to the fray with a sea monster intent on tearing the tiny town apart. Following a thorough head lopping, Norgal continues on his way through town, the whole while arguing with a witches head he carry’s in a sack over his shoulder. Little does he know that his arrival has set off a series of events that mostly include very large monster’s and double crossings of the highest order! When he is asked to help rid of the monsters leader, The Sorcerer of the Black Bog, by the queen of the city, he agrees to the mission but is quickly sucked into something much more nefarious.
I am absolutely digging this comic. As stated, it’s not really original, but it feels less like something I’ve already read and more of an homage to old fantasy works. There’s a very distinct feel of a person who knew what they wanted to do and pay proper tribute versus, say, someone who just wanted to make a quick buck by rehashing old ideas. And what tribute it is! The characters are fun and distinct, embracing everything from the evil witch to the stoic queen to the double cross, shady looking motherfucker. The dialogue has a great flow to it and doesn’t get stuck on keeping a ton of ‘thous and thees’ which sounds like an odd compliment, but it really works in the favor of Head Lopper’s quick paced action. And the action! Boy oh boy, is the action excellent. Plenty of heads get tossed the fuck off!
Head Lopper is the long time work of indie artist Andrew Maclean. His distinct art style (a bit like early Mignola) set the work apart from others and has amassed a steady following of those in the know. After floating around the small press market for a while, it found a big publishing home with Image comics and has been reprinted in a whopping double-sized first issue and in full color! Issues will be released every three months in the same 50-60 page mass format. Though the price is a bit steep at $6, you get a pretty neat-o pin-up gallery and a sassy end note from the creator. Also, you get a TON of comic. It’s totally worth it, you should buy it.