You will be lucky if you added this to your pull list, but if not, make sure you order a copy as soon as you can.
When a girl’s belief in superstition proves to be painfully true, she will have to set out on a quest to find a magical lucky totem to save her mother, and perhaps change how she sees the world.
Writer: Norm Harper
Artist: Louie Joyce
Letters: Oceano Ransford
Cover: Louie Joyce
Publisher: Lion Forge
Release Date: March 6th, 2019
Cover Price: $14.99
Previously in HAPHAVEN: Superstition is something as old as the human existence, and no one knows when it may have first started, Maybe it was when a hunter first realized that he fell his prey consistently after with his spear after hopping three times on one foot before releasing the spear. Maybe it when the knuckles came up victory after the gambler spit on them and rubbed his belly before he rolled. No one knows. What is known is superstitions, despite having been disproven time and time again by science, are alive and strong within the human psyche. But what about those for whom it is alive in a more tangible form?
NEVER WALK UNDER A LADDER CARRYING A BLACK CAT
Late at night, past her bedtime, Alex Mills is receiving a lesson in family history from her father, and it takes the form of a wooden baseball bat with lucky totems carved into it. The first symbol her father asks her about is the horseshoe. Its luck comes from its seven holes and its crescent moon shape. The next it a little more complicated, as it is a pair of fishhooks, or double Js, which are carved into the bottom of the handle. Those have special significance. Her father tells her the story of her great, great granddad Zane, who was a card player in the old west. Family legend says whenever Zane had two jacks in his hand he always won. He believed in this so much that he even wore the double J as his personal symbol, almost a totem of power. He always won when he held a pair of jacks, until the day he didn’t. That day, his wife and kids left him and Zane found himself alone. He decided to go out and find Lady Luck herself and ask her why she had forsaken him. Enamored with the story and the bat her father played baseball with, his lucky bat, she asks to keep it for the night. Despite her mother’s concerns, her father allows it. He told Alex that Zane could watch over her tonight.
That night, her father’s luck ran out. He died in an accident.
Five years later, young Alex is playing in her baseball league, using the same bat her father did, and hitting home runs with it. This is despite her coach wanting her to use a metal bat. After Alex hits the game-winning home run, her mother brings up the sore subject of her birthday. It’s not every year a girl turns thirteen. But Alex has grown up harboring, with some justification, a belief in the superstitions we all take for granted. Thirteen is not a good number, and she much prefers to ignore it her birthday this year. She and her mother argue some over it, a one-sided discussion really, with her other telling her that the belief in superstitions, and the way they remind her of her departed dad, is great. However, she does not need to let them control her life. She should start realizing that they are just imaginary and move past them. As she follows her mother into the house, Alex decides her mother may be right. To test it, she decides to step on a crack in the driveway.
That night the doctors tell her while her mother is physically fine, she actually is paralyzed. It is as if her back were broken, but it’s not. Blaming herself, she decides that she will go out and find Lady Luck, and get it all fixed. After her coach drops her off at home, she tells him her grandfather is watching out for her, she begins to search the internet for information on Lady Luck. Finally, realizing that it may be a dumb idea, she gets ready for bed, only to find that she has a visitor. Standing on her night table is a small man, with red hair and a beard, dressed in green armor, carrying a sword. He tells her that he is Hubbub Caskside, a servant to the throne of Lady Luck. He is there to help her save her mother, and her great-great-grandfather as well. As a leprechaun, he knows the remedy for her mother’s ailment a genuine rabbit’s foot which can only be found in the land of Haphaven, and the portal to his land is preparing to open, at the end of the rainbow. So Alex sets forth on a quest to save her mother, and her great-great-grandfather. In the land of Haphaven she will meet living embodiments of the superstitions she has lived by, and discover that there is more truth to them than she would have ever believed.
JINX! YOU OWE ME A COKE!
Haphaven in the brainchild of writer Norm Harper (Rikki, The Sequels) and artist Louie Joyce (Past the Last Mountain, Imaginary Drugs. I recently reviewed the upcoming series The Sequels by Harper, so it was a pleasant surprise to see his name attached to this graphic novel. Once again, he takes a childhood related topic, this time the belief in superstitions, and expounds upon it in ways which few may have considered. Alex Mills could be any young girl or boy, who’s believe that they have no control over their actions and are so solid that they start to think their lives are ruled by invisible forces. Harper takes this to another level, and weaves those invisible forces into the fabric of the story, and of Alex’s life. It is heartbreaking in a way, but uplifting as well. There is some great sequences here, and twists and turns which are more than worth the journey.
Louie Joyce’s art is a perfect fit for this story. The designs he has for Alex and the inhabitants of Haphaven are deceptively simple, but they carry a beauty that draws you in. He delivers a number of exciting cinematic sequences that will have you on the edge of your chair, and then there are others which can start to move you to tears. It is some great work.
BOTTOM LINE: GREAT CONCEPTS AND EXECUTION
It is always tough to review a graphic novel or collection. They are much longer than the average thirty or so pages, and it is hard to give a glimpse of the story when you want to save the most important parts for the reader. Haphaven was like this. This is such a great story I was hesitant to review it, I liked it that much. It has heart and courage and would be a welcome addition to any reader’s collection.
HAPHAVEN is a wonderful graphic novel which has something for younger readers as well as the adult set.