Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Brian Ruckley
Artist: Andrea Mutti
Release Date: 19th April 2017
Okay, so I love Highlander as much as the next person, and it’s definitely encouraging to see IDW Publishing giving it a brand new comic book prequel, but in terms of the actual content of this latest series, I still can’t help but find myself thirsting for something more, y’know?
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing necessarily bad about writer Brian Ruckley’s story here. It’s perfectly serviceable, introducing some new faces into the established Highlander mythos with the minimum of fuss, while giving Connor MacLeod a new threat to overcome prior to the events of the 1986 movie. It’s just, well, a little flat, to be honest.
The longer we spend in 1950s Manhattan, the more I find myself longing for the dynamic American Civil War scenes of the first two issues. For me, if you’re going to do a Highlander sequel, particularly a prequel, you need to try and do something a little different, and I can’t help but feel that setting the bulk of this latest series in the fairly recent 50s isn’t really capitalising on the “immortality” of the main protagonists. It may as well all be set yesterday, and the contrast between the flashbacks and the present day are now feeling fairly superficial at best.
It also doesn’t help that new bad guy John Hooke isn’t particularly compelling either, and comes across as a bit of a cookie-cutter villain. He’s a little crazy, a little violent, and he wants… well, it’s not entirely clear what his endgame is, but he’s an obstacle between Connor and the Gathering, so it seems that he’s going to have to either move or lose his head. In the last issue, Ruckley made the comparison that if the Kurgan is a wolf, Hooke is a rabid dog, and while that definitely sounds good on paper, I still can’t help but feel that Hooke is little more than ‘Kurgan Lite’ at the moment.
It’s also not a particularly striking issue from a visual point of view, with the bulk of the story taking place on the dour streets and houses of New York, and while artist Andrea Mutti does a solid job with what he’s given, he does feel more than a little hamstrung throughout the course of this latest chapter. That said, Mutti does get a chance to cut loose in the final few pages, giving the slow-paced issue a much needed jolt of life as Conor and Hooke finally cross paths – and blades – and giving me hope that the pace will finally pick up for the remainder of the series, giving us a somewhat satisfying conclusion.
Ultimately, Highlander: The American Dream remains a fairly frustrating read. Ruckley’s dialogue is enjoyable, the story is serviceable and Mutti’s visuals are typically polished, but there’s just something utterly uninspired about the overall package that makes it difficult to get too excited about. I’m remaining hopefully that things will pick up as the series nears its conclusion, but at this point, unless you’re a die-hard Highlander fan, there’s really not much to keep you interested here.
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