By: Robert E. Howard (original story), Michael Alan Nelson (adaptation), Damian Couciero (art), Juan Manuel Tumburus (colors) & Johnny Lowe (letters)
The Story: Legendary warrior Cormac Fitzgeoffrey seeks vengeance and honor during the Crusades-era in the Middle East.
What’s Good: Without going into plot developments (since this is an advance review), this comic was a lot of fun. I was prepared not to love it since I’m generally not a huge fan of comic adaptations, but it turns out well. Our hero, Cormac, is a tremendously powerful warrior, but is interested in being bound to no King or Lord. He is following his own path and happens to be enough of a badass with his sword and axe that he can get away with it.
The source material for this comic seems to be out of print, and the comic is written wholly as if the reader has no prior knowledge of the original works. This first issue does a good job of introducing Cormac, his ethos and some of the confusing politics of the Crusades. The comic is set in Antioch in 1190, so this is towards the end of the Crusades and definitely set among the downfall of the Christian city-states of the era. Any history buff of this era is libel to enjoy this comic somewhat as is any fan of Assassin’s Creed I.
The art is quite effective at handling the action and over-the-top bravado of the writing. From the way that he is drawn, you can really believe that Cormac would have been the baddest man on the field of battle
What’s Not So Good: The writing and lettering are really skating on the razor’s edge of going from being “over-the-top, but fun” to just being a little “silly and buffoonish”. For me, it all came together nicely, but they will need to be careful to not push it too far. I rolled my eyes on the 2nd or 3rd page when one of the Crusaders recognizes Cormac and exclaims (in size 30 font) “CORMAC FITZGEOFFREY!” I thought, “Who’s Cormac Fitzgeoffrey and could they have come up with a more stereotypical name for a wild-highlander type warrior who bows to no man?” Of course, I battled through this inward groan and enjoyed the comic quite a bit, but some folks may be more allergic to fun than I am.
I also admittedly got lost, as there were descriptions of the political intrigues of the era. It kind of read as “This guy with a French-sounding name is doing this and this English-sounding dude is pissing off the Muslims.” But, I don’t think this is a political thriller: The whole story is a set up to watch Cormac smash people, but they could have simplified the politics a little bit.
Conclusion: Over the top and fun. Verging on silly/pompous, but effectively never quite going there.
– Dean Stell