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Review: The Sword of Hyperborea #1

The Sword of Hyperborea #1

The Sword of Hyperborea #1 is the first installment of a four issue miniseries centered around a titular sword that has had an impact on the Mignolaverse from the dawn of time (From its name, I can deduce it’s connected to Robert E. Howard/Conan stuff.) to the apocalypse aka Ragna Rok. On paper, this sounds pretty fucking cool like Hellboy meets Highlander, or like Michael Walsh’s Silver Coin, but sword and sorcery. However, in execution, this new comic from Mike Mignola, Rob Williams, Laurence Campbell, and Quinton Winter is far from it. With the exception of the opening sequence which establishes BPRD Agent Howards’ relationship with Liz Sherman as well as his duty as wielder of the Sword of Hyperborea, this book is a confusing mess that will only resonate with hardcore Mignolaverse fans. There are bits and pieces that are coherent like one of Gall Dennar’s fellow tribe members saying that his strength only comes from the sword and paying the price, but it doesn’t come together into any kind of satisfying whole, or even slice of a story.

And this is a shame because Campbell and Winter’s visuals are damn good. Laurence Campbell’s style is a hybrid between Mignola and Andrea Sorrentino while Quinton Winter’s palette is suitably apocalyptic with clashing pitch blacks and lights. Winter brings an elemental approach to the coloring of the book with lots of green, reds, and whites fitting for a story that is set, for better and worse, around the dawn of humanity. (The one line in Mike Mignola and Williams’ script that I actually smiled at was Liz calling Howards, “Captain Caveman” before he jumps into action.) This works well with Campbell’s thick, sketchy lines that show the struggle to survive in prehistoric times, and how something like the Sword of Hyperborea can turn the tide. On the other hand, Laurence Campbell takes a simpler approach to his monster: all tentacles and straight lines like a kind of end point to humanity.

The Sword of Hyperborea #1 is centered around a simple idea: one day humanity will be destroyed by monsters. It’s hard not to connect to what Mignola and Rob Williams have put in their script with a deadly pandemic raging, income inequality soaring, and the climate rapidly changing. I definitely get that foreboding from Campbell and Quinton Winter’s art, but it doesn’t come through in the story, which is structured like some vignettes (Howards fighting monsters, Gall Dennar’s tribe succession, Howards/Dennar going into a deep dark cave) combined with trailer type images that will either be fleshed out down the road, or are already familiar to Mignolaverse fans. There’s repeated mentions of Chicago and modern imagery juxtaposed with the cave/apocalyptic stuff, and without context, it reads like generic foreshadowing.

Also, I don’t get a feel for either Howards or Dennar as characters beyond they have a magic sword and are going up against monsters that end the world. It looks cool, but I don’t care about these guys at all, sorry. Also, the apocalypse doesn’t have much build up beyond tentacles and lightning. It’s all very vague and reads like a Xerox of a Xerox of Robert E. Howard’s ouevre: all keywords and bad things happening and not even fun purple prose. Honestly, if this wasn’t connected to Hellboy and BPRD in some way, I wouldn’t even tell the hardcore fans to check it out.

Laurence Campbell and Quinton Winter bring some compelling prehistoric and high fantasy settings to life in The Sword of Hyperborea #1, but Mike Mignola and Rob Williams’ script is too bogged down in lore to make Agent Howards or Gall Dennar compelling leads. By the end of the issue, I just know that Dennar is a strong guy with a sword who doesn’t have much of a personality beyond beating his rivals and monsters with the aforementioned sword. If I predict correctly from the ending, subsequent issues are going to jump into different time periods and introduce additional characters, who are hopefully fleshed out more, but that’s a path I would only recommend for the Mignolaverse completionists.

Script: Mike Mignola and Rob Williams Art: Laurence Campbell
Colors: Quinton Winter Letters: Clem Robins
Story: 5.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 6.0 Recommendation: Pass

Dark Horse Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Preview: Sword of Hyperborea #1

Sword of Hyperborea #1

Writer: Mike Mignola, Rob Williams
Artist: Laurence Campbell
Letterer: Clem Robins
Colorist: Quinton Winter, Dave Stewart
Cover Artist: Laurence Campbell
Publication Date: January 12, 2022
Format: FC, 32 pages; Miniseries
Price: $3.99

From the ancient warrior Gall Dennar, to Sir Edward Grey, to the B.P.R.D.’s Agent Howards, the iconic Hyperborean sword from the world of Hellboy has landed in many influential hands. And this has been no accident. Trace the sword’s path through the adventures and encounters that finally brought it to Ragna Rok, at the end of the world, and witness the sword’s journey through history.

Hellboy creator Mike Mignola gives us a new tale from the world of Hellboy, cowritten by Rob Williams and featuring the art of Mignolaverse veteran Laurence Campbell to deliver never-before-seen Hellboy lore!

* The story of the Hyperborean blade!

Sword of Hyperborea #1

Preview: Out #3

Out #3

(W) Rob Williams (A) Will Conrad, Marco Lesko (CA) Tim Bradstreet
In Shops: Dec 15, 2021
SRP: $3.99

In the waning days of World War Two, with the Allies advancing, a desperate Nazi officer unearths an ancient force of evil that he hopes will turn the tide of battle: a vampire. To test the power of his secret weapon, he unleashes the monster on an unsuspecting group of Allied POWs. It’s up to Nocona, a Comanche language expert, to communicate with the vampire to find out what it really wants

Out #3

Preview: Out #2

Out #2

(W) Rob Williams (A) Will Conrad, Marco Lesko (CA) Tim Bradstreet
In Shops: Nov 10, 2021
SRP: $3.99

In the waning days of World War Two, with the Allies advancing, a desperate Nazi officer unearths an ancient force of evil that he hopes will turn the tide of battle: a vampire. To test the power of his secret weapon, he unleashes the monster on an unsuspecting group of Allied POWs. It’s up to Nocona, a Comanche language expert, to communicate with the vampire to find out what it really wants

Out #2

Preview: Out #1

Out #1

(W) Rob Williams (A) Will Conrad (CA) Tim Bradstreet
In Shops: Oct 06, 2021
SRP: $3.99

In the waning days of World War Two, with the Allies advancing, a desperate Nazi officer unearths an ancient force of evil that he hopes will turn the tide of battle: a vampire. To test the power of his secret weapon, he unleashes the monster on an unsuspecting group of Allied POWs. It’s up to Nocona, a Comanche language expert, to communicate with the vampire to find out what it really wants.

Out #1

AWA Studios Announces Out from Rob Williams, Will Conrad, and Marco Lesko

Indie comic book publisher Artists, Writers, and Artisans (AWA Studios) is teaming up AWA Studios veteran creators Rob Williams, Will Conrad, and Marco Lesko to bring you a new horror series, Out. Described as The Great Escape meets 30 Days of Night, this series will be in stores on October 6th, 2021 in time for Halloween with two covers by Tim Bradstreet and Mike Deodato Jr.

The story sees Allied soldiers attempting to escape from a castle on the highest cliffs of Bavaria surrounded by a battalion of Nazi soldiers. Making it more difficult is a monstrous vampire hiding somewhere in the camp with them.

Out debuts on October 6th, 2021. Below, Tim Bradstreet and Mike Deodato Jr.’s covers for issue #1, as well as preview pages by Will Conrad and Marco Lesko and official solicitation.

In the waning days of World War Two, with the Allies advancing, a desperate Nazi officer unearths an ancient force of evil that he hopes will turn the tide of battle: a vampire. To test the power of his secret weapon, he unleashes the monster on an unsuspecting group of Allied POWs. It’s up to Nocona, a Comanche language expert, to communicate with the vampire to find out what it really wants.

Preview: Old Haunts #4

Old Haunts #4

(W) Ollie Masters, Rob Williams (A/CA) Laurence Campbell
In Shops: Sep 16, 2020
SRP: $3.99

Three Made Men, standing at the brink of retirement, find their unbreakable bond put to the ultimate test when they are suddenly – and literally – assaulted by the ghosts of their past. Confronted by decades of buried secrets – resentments, affairs, double-crosses, and murders – the three friends have no choice but to unearth the deepest, darkest sin from their past and pray they don’t find an empty grave.

Old Haunts #4

Review: Old Haunts #1

Old Haunts #1

I’m a big fan of mob films. I can watch films like The Godfather, Goodfellas, New Jack City, and Casino, over and over. What you rarely is that genre mashed up with others. There have been attempts at comedy or romance but most films are pretty siloed in style. Old Haunts #1 is an interesting spin on the mob story as it attempts to deliver something new, a mob story with a horror twist.

Written by Ollie Masters and Rob Williams, Old Haunts #1 introduces us to three mobsters who have a literal pile of bodies underneath them. They have decided to get out of the business and move on. But, their past crime doesn’t want them to. It’s a take on the concept of one’s past coming back to haunt you.

The result is pretty decent, enough that I really want to see where it goes.

The story delivers a few cliches from the genre and Old Haunts #1 is mostly set up but there’s enough there to want to see more. The issue is, our three main characters are generally forgettable. They each have some minor things to set them apart but they generally blend away after reading. Not long after I’ve read the first issue and each character’s name is already forgotten.

It’s the character types that really stand out and that plays into the horror aspect. Instead of the “slut” we have one character who pays for sex. We still have the tough guy who’s surely going to die. Then there’s the nice guy who’s probably supposed to be the protagonist that we cheer for in hopes they survive and are happy. It’s not bad but you can see there’s a bit plug and play going on. Still, it works as a start setting up what’s to come.

The art by Laurence Campbell is pretty solid. With color by Lee Loughridge and lettering by Sal Cipriano, it relies heavily on shadows delivering a style that fits the noir/crime genre. Blues, reds, yellows, and purples, with a heavy dose of black pepper the panels giving the comic a very interesting look that befits the story. The characters are definitely different in their look and style, but run into that issue that they also don’t stand out. It’s not bad but also a comic that you’ll remember liking but nothing specific you can really pinpoint. The horror aspects though absolutely deliver a creepy vibe and go in a solid direction I want to see more of.

As an introduction, Old Haunts #1 is interesting and entertaining. It brings together two genres you don’t see mashed up often. It’s a good introduction that as a piece of the bigger story will be fine but on its own falls a little short. It lacks that little bit something special that really puts it over the top. But, like a horror film, that’s also not the point. This is the lull before the storm and we really want to see the scares from here. As a set up to that, it works quite well.

Story: Ollie Masters, Rob Williams Art: Laurence Campbell
Color: Lee Loughridge Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Story: 7.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

AWA Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus Comics

AWA Studios Releases a Trailer for Old Haunts

AWA Studios has released the official trailer for the supernatural crime thriller, Old Haunts, written by Ollie Masters and Rob Williams, art by Laurence Campbell, colors by Lee Loughridge, and lettering by Sal Cipriano. Old Haunts has an updated release date of June 10, 2020.

Three Made Men, standing at the brink of retirement, find their unbreakable bond put to the ultimate test when they are suddenly assaulted by the ghosts of their past. Confronted by decades of buried secrets – resentments, affairs, double-crosses, and murders – the three friends have no choice but to unearth the deepest, darkest sin from their past and pray they don’t find an empty grave.

Cla$$war Comes to Image in July 2020

The critically acclaimed indie superhero title — Cla$$war by Rob WilliamsTrevor Hairsine, and Travel Foreman — will be available in trade paperback for the first time from Image Comics this July 2020. 

Love your country then rip it down! In Cla$$war, beloved supersoldier, American, uncovers the dark truth behind the White House and burns the word “Liar” into the forehead of the president on live TV. Now on the run with a rogue CIA agent, he intends to reveal everything he now knows to the world. Can his former teammates, the superteam Enola Gay, stop him?  

Cla$$war (ISBN: 978-1607438168) will be available on Wednesday, July 15 and in bookstores on Tuesday, July 21.

Cla$$war
Almost American
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