Hawk the Slayer (#1 – 5, pkgd. w/ JD Megs #440 – 444) – Garth Ennis

2 out of 5

Here are some pros: Henry Flint’s art on this comic book sequel to 80s flick Hawk & Slayer is gorgeous and grody, the latter in all those great Henry Flint ways. I’ve never seen the artist so controlled, while maintaining his own outlandish style; the linework is brilliantly lively, and the light color palette allows the art to breathe; I would say Henry brings a very cinematic vibe to what’s often a dull script, finding ways to bring the pacing and action alive through his framing. And though I’ve just called the script dull, I do think it sounds / reads like an 80s fantasy movie, but that comes with a certain emptiness of vacuous characters and a storyline that’s often carried primarily by oddball visuals. Meaning: I don’t doubt there’s a movie called Hawk & Slayer, and that this comic book could be said to represent it well.

But there’s the big negative, and perhaps it’s already clear from that sentence – that I haven’t seen Hawk & Slayer. The first issue of this series worked fairly well in straddling the line between introductions and nostalgia, but that’s very fleeting: immediately afterward, no one feels like they have a personality, and I could hardly feel any momentum behind the story, which concerns (I think) Hawk fending off his brother Vort, for possession of his mystical sword. Various roadblocks are put in place to stall Hawk in his pursuits; that’s the focus of our first few issues, with the battle with Vort taking up the last couple; but at each point along the way, it seemed as though we were still building up to some “actual” plot, and then suddenly it’s the final battle and the end. Only “suddenly” means 4.75 issues of very generic dialogue and character tropes (see my snap judgement of 80s fantasy movies, though – many of which I certainly enjoy!), and despite Flint’s art making the most of it, the stuff just doesn’t have stakes as a result of that emptiness / genericness, despite people dying or almost dying and lots of last minute saves.

I sincerely do expect that fans of the original film – Garth undoubtedly counted amongst that lot – will probably get much more mileage out of this, able to fill in tonal gaps with their memories of the movie. Tack the art onto that, and your rating shoots up. But as a standalone read, I really couldn’t muster much energy to “want” to finish it, except to see what Flint would do on the next page.