8.5

Head Lopper #1 by Andrew MacLean Review

Comics Reviews
Share Tweet Submit Pin
<i>Head Lopper</i> #1 by Andrew MacLean Review

Writer/Artist: Andrew MacLean
Publisher: Image
Release Date: September 9, 2015

Head Lopper is a story about an uber-badass viking/barbarian-type who roams a realm of sword and sorcery, earning a wage as something akin to a noble bounty hunter. Everyone calls him “Head Lopper” because he decapitates so many monsters, although he prefers to be addressed as “Norgal.” In terms of plot and characters, Head Lopper contains almost no new, or even terribly interesting, ideas. In fact, storytellers have spun yarns about enigmatic, reticent, violent yet-justice-oriented vagabonds wandering into a community and righting its various wrongs since pretty much always.

HeadLopper_01-1.png

Thus, Head Lopper prompts the question: are new or interesting ideas important, or even necessary? Cult favorite Andrew MacLean’s kinetic, vibrant action sequences preclude any possibility of losing a reader’s attention. The dialogue, while mostly sparse, pops while gracefully floating the story over the murky quicksands of exposition. And the titular Head Lopper travels with the reanimated noggin of Agatha The Blue Witch in a sack flung over his shoulder, so as to protect the innocent people she’d surely place nasty curses on if left unchaperoned. Their contentious, though symbiotic, alliance recalls retired ECW wrestler Al Snow and the mannequin head whose indispensable career guidance could be heard by him, and him alone. Norgal, it should be noted, is not insane like Snow was, and everyone else can also hear Agatha’s ghoulish taunting.

HeadLopper01_Preview_Page_web.jpg
Head Lopper #1 Interior Art by Andrew MacLea

This inaugural Head Lopper book runs almost 100 pages, meaning its deceptively inexpensive $5.99 price tag is only a dollar steeper than a few recent $4.99 Marvel books that pop to mind, none of which approach Head Lopper’s content quantity. At the tale’s onset, Norgal arrives at Castlebay, a coastal city on the Isle of Barra, and slays a giant purple sea monster who formerly hindered the island’s economy via sinking and/or eating incoming cargo ships. Some members of the community are grateful for the mysterious stranger’s presence. Others hope to manipulate him to nefarious ends. Some people just think his thing with cutting heads off is sort of creepy.

Yet another grisly, potently colored fight scene depicts Norgal dispatching a pack of wolves, all of whom dwarf Clifford the Big Red Dog while sharing none of his gentle disposition. Norgal rescues Castlebay’s royal steward in the process, and is consequently sent by the regal and fair Queen Abigail on a quest to do his head-chopping-off thing to the very problematic Sorcerer of the Black Bog. However, unbeknownst to Norgal and Abigail, evil shenanigans are afoot.

HeadLopper01_Preview_Page3_web.jpg
Head Lopper #1 Interior Art by Andrew MacLea

As de facto Monarch Abigail’s relationship with her toddler king son echos Cersei Lannister’s former station at King’s Landing, Head Lopper bears some similarities to Game of Thrones. That might not be a bad thing. I’d also liken Head Lopper to a hard R-Rated Adventure Time, meaning MacLean’s crafted an inky scenario that reeks of potential crossover appeal.

The only legitimately disappointing aspect of this chapter—the first of four slated Head Lopper books—is its relatively conservative number of lopped heads. Normally, eight decapitations in a single comic book scans as overkill. However, in the case of a near 100-page read titled Head Lopper, I’m expecting a head-removal-to-page ratio much higher than approximately 1/10. But I’m anticipating that it’ll be upped to 2/10 or maybe even 4/10 by issue 3 or 4.

HeadLopper01_Preview_Page4_web.jpg
Head Lopper #1 Interior Art by Andrew MacLea