If you ask me, we don’t have enough fantasy in our comic books. There’s plenty of science fiction of every variety imaginable, but aside from some choice books (Rat Queens comes to mind) there isn’t much out there on a consistent basis (besides Thor and Conan?).
When it comes to fantasy, oftentimes we have to turn to indie publishers to give us what we want. Case in point this book, but is it good?
Allen: Son of Hellcock #1 (Z2 Comics)
This is a comedic look at fantasy and in particular the Conan series. It opens with a hero very much like Conan who fights an evil force to be reckoned with. The premise asks the question…what would happen if true evil reigned? And what would the barbarian hero’s son do about it?
Why does this book matter?
The average person protagonist thrust into the role of hero is a common trope, but this is a slightly different affair. For beginners we have an artist protagonist in Allen who looks like an average modern man (glasses and all), but his father is very much a hero Arnold Schwarzenegger types could play. That’s a good juxtaposition to play around with, plus with any fantasy comic there’s potential for anything to happen!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
If you’re looking for value in your comics (because God knows the 22 page Big Two comic format is as light as a rice cake), Allen: Son of Hellcock offers up plenty. This issue stops at nothing to prove it’s a tried and true fantasy we’ve dreamed of while playing Dungeons and Dragons. There are many types of monsters from dragons to fish people (with soul patches) and writers Will Tracy and Gabe Koplowitz stops at nothing to inundate the first ten pages with all your fantasy expectations. Tracy and Koplowitz fill every page with fun moments, over the top action and nods to many things fantasy lovers love (not least of which is Hellcock the Conan type who stops at nothing to flex those muscles); which is why when the hook occurs midway through and we meet Allen things get funny very fast.
Establishing the world is key and Tracy and Koplowitz do so very well. Allen and his relationship to a certain spirit is also a hilarious set up. While it might remind some of the trashy romcom’s we despise it works here because of the setting and the geeky protagonist most of us can relate to. Essentially the first half shows us a fantastical world of heroes fighting all powerful villains while the second half shows the trials and tribulations of being a lonely nerd. Equally valid battles!
Artist Miguel Porto does a bang up job drawing too with thin line work that’s detailed and very good at selling the comedic bits. His style is clearly European as it renders everything in a 3D space that’s detailed and sure. One scene works well due to the art as we close in on the great villain that now rules only to pull out to reveal a bored child of said villain reading the newspaper. The world largely works because Porto goes above and beyond rendering the surroundings of these characters.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The nerd who can’t get girls thing is rather overdone and it’s hard to enjoy the character because of it. So far he’s rather depressing and boring, which is probably part of his schtick, but of all the characters in this work he’s the least pleasing and interesting. That’s a slight problem considering he’s the protagonist, but there is more to the characters around him that is for sure.
The juxtaposed stories of the father and son work to split the book in half, but at the same time it does make the first half feel too long. You might find yourself screaming “get on with the hook.”
Is It Good?
Tracy and Koplowitz stuff much of this issue with funny moments either via the spirit or background characters and that’s fun for any fan of fantasy. The first issue of Allen: Son of Hellcock is a lot of fun and you should take the chance to go along for the ride.