Andrew Maclean makes a triumphant return this month with the second quarterly installment of Head Lopper, the funniest Conan the Barbarian comic this side of the Atlantic. For a book that is one of the longest single issues on the shelf, let me give you a condensed version of my already short review: buy this book, it fucking rules.
In this month’s installment, we get a little bit of backstory on Lulach, the son of the swamp, and the story picks up with Norgal and Agatha’s trip into the swamp to save the kingdom. They debate the relative merits of steel vs. magic, and they meet a strange little Miyazakian imp named Gnym, who warns them that they’ve chosen a dangerous spot to camp. Ghosts are fought, zombie giants put in an appearance—it’s altogether amazing comics.
In a week that’s chock full of amazing comics releases—The Violent, the hardcover Essex County, Secret Wars, We Can Never Go Home’s collection—Head Lopper stands out as one of the most bang for the buck every three months. It’s something I hammered on last time, but I have to emphasize how astonishingly worth it this comic is. This is no twenty page floppy that you’ll be done with before you realize it. You really get to live in the world Maclean is building, and the fact that it only comes around once every three months makes it that much sweeter.
The big star in this issue is Gnym. He’s a different element from what showed up in the first issue. He’s more of a whimsical danger element than straight up Dungeons & Dragons-style trolls and orcs and sea serpents were, and his combo of a raccoon tail and what appears to be a bag with large teeth drawn on it for a face reminds me in equal parts of Spirited Away and Ocarina of Time. I mean, just break into my apartment and start referencing all my favorite stuff that you saw there why don’t you, Maclean. The riddling nature of Gnym and the blocky, suggestive designs Maclean employs alongside Mike Spicer’s deceptively simple color palette also bring Adventure Time to mind, and if those aren’t three great touchstones, I don’t know what you want.
As Head Lopper goes on, I find myself drawn more and more to action on the periphery, to the things that show up to flavor what’s going on in the center of the panel. I don’t know what Maclean’s plan is for the book come next year when all four parts are out, but he’s built a world rich enough to sustain any kind of story he wants to tell. I can’t wait to live in it a few times a year.
Head Lopper #2 Writer/Artist/Creator: Andrew Maclean Colorist: Mike Spicer Publisher: Image Comics Price: $5.99 Release Date: 12/9/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital