Head Lopper #9
Writer: Andrew Maclean
Art: Andrew Maclean
Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Erin Maclean
Reviewed by Evan Maroun
When people ask me for recommendations of comics series they should check out, I often bring up Head Lopper. In fact, I wrote about the series earlier this year and why it’s absolutely worth your time. After two meaty volumes consisting of just 8 issues overall, creator Andrew Maclean returns with a third arc titled: The Knights of Venora. Does the opening chapter of Norgal and Agatha’s latest adventure continue to impress with its ever-growing world and cast of characters, or does it all boil down to some goblin fodder?
One of the notable aspects I mentioned in my previous discussion of the series was how somewhere along the line at the series outset, Maclean made a decision to not delve into the backstory for the protagonists, Norgal and Agatha. I think many would agree that origin stories can get tiresome and you didn’t need one to understand their bickering dynamic. With each issue, he has succeeded in building a lived-in world that helps to shape our idea of them and that seemed like enough. With the opening pages of issue #9, Maclean changes this–jumping back to a time when Agatha still had the rest of her body intact. Choosing to start the arc with this, tells us that this info will ultimately be relevant to the main plot somewhere down the line. In turn, taking a bit of backstory that some (like myself) may have thought as initially unnecessary and making it into something important. It’s also in the issue’s opening pages that we are reminded of just how strong Jordie Bellaire’s eye for color truly is. She wields the palette of each scene like a weapon, adding in brilliant flourishes that really draw your eye, sometimes in contrast, to make each scene or character that much more unique. She keeps this up throughout and her return is highly valuable to this book’s overall look.
Around a fire pit, the current story begins and it doesn’t take too long for Norgal and Agatha to stumble upon some new faces, Arlen and Balan Falgor. Without going too much into details of their current predicament, the two decide to escort their new acquaintances back to their home of Venora; A kingdom built around a giant egg. For something that may sound silly on paper, Maclean takes this idea and not only makes it look great on the page but just as important to its execution, surrounds it with the lore and history that fans have come to love.
In the starkly red-drenched depths of the world, we also get a look at the looming figures that have taken a particular interest in the Head Lopper himself and his purple-headed companion. Familiar with his past heroic efforts but still mostly shrouded in mystery, fans will get a sense this could very likely be the duo’s most direct and deadly encounter yet. Reading through a second time more carefully I may already have built a solid theory as to what direction these villains could be headed or what they want. Some might consider that a problem, but if so, it’s a small one. Besides– if wrong, I love nothing more than to be surprised.
Speaking of enemies, this wouldn’t be a proper Head Lopper review without mentioning the action. Maclean is not one to fail when it comes to depicting the swift and fluid movements of characters, and it’s no different here. while some of these panels have a lot going on, with creatures kicking up sand and occasionally background objects showing up (mostly to place it), more frequently he singles out the action by strategically leaving the backgrounds mostly blank. In a world otherwise brimming with details, it works because for moments at a time, that becomes secondary. You can fully enjoy the lopping of heads as advertised.
Verdict: Buy It!
With new characters, a new land, and some shadowy new villains to boot– no page goes to waste as Maclean kicks off perhaps his most focused and exciting opening chapter of an adventure yet.
Interested in more things Head Lopper? Look for an upcoming interview with Andrew Maclean, talking about the series, and what kind of things fans have to look forward to in his latest adventure, The Knights of Venora.