Publisher: Image Comics
Writer/Artist: Andrew MacLean
Colourist: Mike Spicer, Andrew MacLean
Release Date: 9th March, 2016
The latest quarterly instalment of Andrew MacLean’s HEAD LOPPER opens with a flashback sequence as we are allowed to see the full extent of Barra’s machinations and subterfuge in his continued attempts to overthrow the kingdom. From here, we catch up with Norgal – the eponymous lopper of heads – and his disembodied companion, Agatha Blue Witch, as they find themselves hunted and captured by The Sisters of the Hill, before being offered up as a sacrifice to the poison-barb shooting mega-arachnid of the Under Gods.
And yes, it is as awesome as it sounds.
Honestly, I simply can’t get enough of the richly layered, wonderfully realised world that MacLean has created. By extracting all of the best aspects from some of the all-time great fantasy tales – conspiracies, strange monsters and creatures, a stoic hero with unmatched physical prowess – and wrapping them up in a gloriously unconventional package, MacLean has truly captured lightning in a bottle, making for one of the most enjoyable and unique reading experiences I’ve had for quite some time.
Don’t let the cartoony, over exaggerated style fool you, though; this is far from a parody. It’s more like an exaggeration, with the familiar tropes and trappings of fantasy comics having their volume turned all the way up to eleven and delivered with a bombastic, unapologetic sincerity. Don’t get me wrong though, there is still humour to be had here, and the highlight of this issue – and perhaps the series as a whole – remains the incessant jabbering of Agatha Blue Witch.
This issue sees Agatha at her absolute finest, particularly during the scene with the aforementioned mega-arachnid, a frantic, epic-scale battle which is punctuated by Agatha’s one-sided conversation with another disembodied dungeon denizen about the trials and tribulations of life as a head. Honestly, genius isn’t a word I throw about lightly, but this exchange is absolute 100% comic genius. Tip of the hat, Mister MacLean.
Once again, the events of this issue feel almost like a diversion from the bigger story, with an engaging, complex narrative that truly belies the book’s “oh, he’s just a guy with a beard who lops off heads” appearance. While the majority of the supporting characters remain fairly underdeveloped for the most part, the strength of the two main protagonists and their bickering relationship more than carries the story forward, and I can only hope that the fourth and final chapter in this series isn’t the end of HEAD LOPPER altogether. It would be an absolute travesty for a world as wonderful and enjoyable as this not to be explored fully.
Highest of recommendations for this one then, and with the concluding issue not set to hit shelves for another three months, there’s plenty of time for you to get caught up in the utterly unique world of HEAD LOPPER.
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The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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