In Head Lopper #15, seeking to retrieve the fabled Keystone, Norgal is kidnapped! Can his companions find him, and the keystone, and survive the giant spiders of the Mine of Martan? Find out in your next mighty Major Spoilers review!

HEAD LOPPER #15

Writer: Andrew MacLean
Artist: Andrew MacLean
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Erin MacLean
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $5.99
Release Date: March 17th, 2021

Previously in Head Lopper: Tasked with retrieving the lost artifacts of the Manderbolt family, the Head Lopper appears in the City of Korr where a local guide takes them to the Temple of Medusa. Betrayal and vicious fighting follow, as the Head Lopper retrieves the fabled Hammer of Arnak…

EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS

The Head Lopper and his companions are back in Head Lopper #15, an exciting adventure that takes them and the reader into the Mines of Martan to retrieve the fabled Keystone! But betrayal and some giant sized spiders lurk along the path to victory.

Head Lopper #15 is another exciting issue in this excellent sword and sorcery series, which features some wonderful pulpy worldbuilding from creator and writer Andrew MacLean, who also proves the distinctive artwork. The world of Norgal, the Head Lopper, is a fun, pulpy world, akin to Conan’s Hyboria in its scope and inventiveness, though, heretically, MacLean’s worldbuilding is probably more inventive than Howard’s who strip-mining history to create his nations and cultures.

Worldbuilding is the key to success in a series like Head Lopper. With the various races of the world of Narshchlahn, MacLean has built a number of cultures and nations that are distinctive in their own right, giving them agency amidst all the action and adventure. MacLean extends that creativity to his lead characters, with Norgal the most obvious. But even with little touches, like the goblin-like Goat or the bodiless head, Agatha, the reader gets a sense of a far larger, more mysterious world all around our protagonists.

Head Lopper #15 continues the quest format of the series, as Norgal and his companions now seek the fabled Keystone, a block designed to complete a giant wall running across Arnak Pluth. This is where MacLean’s creativity comes to the fore, with political intrigue at the heart of events providing a powerful motivating feature of the plot. Along the way, MacLean indulges in some lengthy conversations between Brishka, an accomplished swordswoman, and Norgal. They divulge something of their personal histories to each other, deepening our understanding of them and their motivations. MacLean demonstrates that both are not merely warriors, but individuals motivated by private pain and guilt, each searching for something larger than the mere plot tokens scattered in their path. It gives all the pleasing violence and adventure greater depth and meaning.

THE QUEST IS THE QUEST

MacLean’s artwork is again a major standout in Head Lopper #15. There’s a bigness to every panel. Buildings loom, and different angles provide a greater sense of scale and import to even the more mundane scenes. For arachnophobes, the scenes in the mines as Brishka and Goat search out the kidnapped Norgal amidst the crawling horror of the giant spiders of Araneae, are sure to make their skin crawl. There are definite Shelob vibes in this extended scene, but MacLean makes them his own as they swarm the characters. As is usual in any Head Lopper book, the action is fast, furious and visceral. Norgal lives up to his moniker, with heads flying left and right. Brishka gives a good accounting of herself, as does Goat. Agatha, the talking head, provides amusing narration as she urges on her companions to greater violence.

BOTTOM LINE: LOPPING TIME!

Head Lopper #15 continues MacLean’s exciting adventure as his characters plunge into further danger, with time for some introspection to deepen our understanding of the key actors’ characters. Being able to balance the action and characterisation takes real skill, and MacLean is up to the challenge.


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Head Lopper #15

90%
90%
Exciting Character Adventure

More sword and sorcery insanity, with political intrigue, giant spiders, magical items and fun, compelling characters all swirling around in a heady mix. The sword and sorcery genre can at times lapse into tropes, with muscle bound characters breaking things in a cod-fantasy world to no great effect. Here, however, the world of the Head Lopper feels unique and tangible, brought to life by an artist who knows his creation inside and out, and who is eager to share his knowledge and sense of adventure with the widest audience possible. Bravo!

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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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