Everyone's losing their heads these days. You can't pick up a Marvel or DC comic book without some depiction of decapitation, and that's before anyone from ISIS thought to send their high professionally shot videos to a local news network. But when it comes to decapitation in entertainment, no one made it quite as iconic as the Highlander films and TV franchise.
Though I think Eternal Comics could probably have learnt from ISIS' production values. Because they are now publishing a newly licensed comic book Highlander 3030, set in the far future of the Highlander universe and officially licensed as a sequel to the films and movies.
The art is reminiscent of high school notebook jottings – while not being for a project that might even suit such a style. Because this is not Diary Of A Wimpy Immortal, this is Highlander. And it looks like a school project you might give a B Minus, and only then because the kid is fourteen and at least they tried.
It also looks like work a young teenager might show at their first comic convention in a portfolio to an editor who then has to let them down gently saying things like "shows promise", "work on your anatomy", "get a better pen", "you need to practice a lot". It is scratchy, unsure, using a hundred lines because the artist doesn't know where the one line should go. And when they do use a one line, it's in the wrong place. And everything is so soulless, the characters are dead on the page, and not just the ones who have had their heads chopped off. Or are threatened to have their head chopped off – in fact, this is a Highlander comic and no one actually gets their head chopped off. What is that all about?
Colourist Eric White really does his best. Matching a style of colouring to the art that lifts it, knocking back the sketchy background, with colours running around the slightly less sketchy characters, making them pop. And, granted, some of the layouts do actually show promise, such as the page below, shifting perspectives and maximising the interest and information given to the reader. But as it stands, the linework fights against everything the comic is trying to do.
The story itself by Lennit and Matt Kelly isn't great shakes, taking aspects of the Highlander movies and TV shows and transplanting them a thousand years hence. It's still MacLeod, he is still moving forward into the future, but technology still doesn't seem to have taken similar leaps and bounds forwards and it's still guns vs. swords, immortals discovering their true nature and duels jumping from planet to space ship. It just all feels a little repetitive and meaningless and the flashbacks through time, often the highlights of the originals, are over in a flash.
I just wish the rest of the comic was. Because it's still the linework that drags this down to the depths. It is as if a scientist worked out how to enhance human DNA by adding feline elements that turn human nails into claws, dipped them in ink and said "hey, I've just got the Highlander license, fancy having a go at drawing it, even though you have never drawn a comic before and, guess what, you are also human/cat hybrid and can be easily distracted by wool."
There are plenty of mediocre comics, and I read a many of them every week. But it's rare that I actually want my time back, as well the retinal tissue that reading this comic book will have scraped off the back.
Am I being too mean? Demanding some kind of surface slickness that belies the raw nature of the work, mixing up craft for art, blind to the true worth within?
No, it's horrible.
Highlander 3030 #1 is published by Emerald Star Comics, licensed by David-Panzer Productions. I wonder who amongst them signed this off?