In Head Lopper #14 Norgal and his companions are diverted to retrieve the Arnakian hammer from its guardian, the terrible Gorgon, Medusa!  Who will survive her stony gaze? Find out in your next mighty Major Spoilers review!

HEAD LOPPER #14

Writer & Artist:  Andrew MacLean
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Erin MacLean
Editor: Erin MacLean
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $5.99
Release Date: December 16th, 2020

Previously in Head Lopper: Having won the key to the invisible gate to the Legendary Stair of Mulgrid, Norgal and his merry band must search for the Stair.  Halted in their quest by King Manderbolt, Norgal and his companions are diverted to retrieve two stolen artifacts, which they must retrieve before being allowed to continue their quest…

THE QUEST IS THE QUEST

Head Lopper #14 takes the series to new heights of excitement, with Norgal, Brishka, Aggie and Goat diverted in their quest for the Stair of Mulgrid.  Captured by the dictator King Manderbolt, their only chance for freedom is to retrieve the Arnakian Hammer and return it to him.  Of course, nothing is easy, for the Hammer is guarded by none other than the Gorgon, Medusa!

Andrew MacLean has a huge amount of fun in this issue.  It has deception, betrayal, bloody violence and a deepening sense of the epic scale of the world of Narschlahn.  He has created a world that feels packed with incidents and history, where the events of the past directly impact on the present.  When we learned last issue that Norgal had been an executioner for the Manderbolts, it gave us a new angle from which to view him.  Similarly, when we realize that Tarf, King Manderbolt’s son, is working in this issue to betray his father’s intent to retrieve the Hammer, we get a sense that his kingdom groans under the yoke of a monster.

Part of the fun of Head Lopper #14 are the battles.  MacLean has wisely used the extra page count to give the battles, which involve an attempted assassination of our main characters, to give this encounter a titanic feel.  Norgal dominates the page, taking on all comers, while his companions, especially Brishka and her red tentacles, are also given time on panel to demonstrate their abilities.  There’s a real sense of violence and action on every panel and the feel of desperation as our heroes struggle to live is palpable.

HAMMER TIME

The artwork that MacLean brings to Head Lopper #14 really does feel epic and grand.  Buildings climb into the sky, the reptilian assassins are otherworldly, and the encounter with Medusa is a desperate affair that turns into a close run thing.  Everything has weight, from the smallest conversation, to Norgal leaping atop Medusa ready to slit her throat.

Classic pages include the entrance to the Temple of Medusa, which is littered with the ossified remains of those who would attempt to steal from her, the moment Norgal cuts of Medusa’s head and when the reptile assassins unleash their fury on the companions as they dine after a long days ride.  All these scenes demonstrate MacLean’s ability to convey a story without any dialog, through the power of his artwork and the way he arranges his characters with each panel.

BOTTOM LINE:  HEAVY METAL

Head Lopper #14 neatly expands the storyline and world building, as Norgal’s merry band of argumentative companions are diverted to complete a couple of side quests that will remind any roleplayer of the fun of sitting at the table with their friends  It expands the world, bringing new threats to the story, while deepening our understanding and appreciation of the characters.


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Head Lopper #14

87%
87%
World Builder

Having been captured and with no other choice other than the executioner’s block, Norgal the Head Lopper agrees to retrieve the Arkanian Hammer. In the epic struggle that follows, we see the full range of his and his companion’s skills and desperation to survive. We get a grander sense of the world of Narschlahn, its people and history along the way. And we also get some cracking scenes of violence, as Norgal does what he does best - lop some heads...

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About Author

Romantic. Raconteur. Kangaroo rustler. Sadly, Rob is none of these. Rob has been a follower of genre since at least the mid-1970s. Book collector, Doctor Who fan, semi-retired podcaster, comic book shop counter jockey, writer (once!) in Doctor Who Magazine and with pretensions to writing fantasy and horror, Rob is the sort of fellow you can happily embrace while wondering why you're doing it. More of his maudlin thoughts can be found at his ill-tended blog https://robertmammone.wordpress.com/

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