polspell_tradeThese first two volumes of Code Name: Hunter, in black and white, enchanted me so much that I decided to follow the series online, in color, where the next two installments of the story is available for download to my computer.

The story follows a Royal Center of Special Investigations (RCSI) agent, Hunter (Max), and his assistant, Gypsy (Ruby), in their efforts to contain the old magic and keep it from invading and destroying a population unable or unfamiliar with both its potency and with the ancient creatures that accompany it. In the first volume, A Political Spell, Hunter and Gypsy are sent to Astoria to escort the mage Gadel to the United Kingdom. The journey, the reception they receive in Astoria, and the resulting danger offer the reader a non-stop action ride with slight detours along the way to delve into the main characters bit by bit. Accompanying the danger and the two agents are subtle humour, court intrigues, dark magic, and richness of characterizations and friendships established within the storyline. Volume 1 includes issues 1-7 of the online comic, as well as additional material such as a mail bag where the cast answers reader’s queries, a cast list of characters, a gallery of covers, and an additional short story.

The second volume, Internal Affairs, begins with Hunter and Gypsy on leave after their successful return to the U.K. with the mage. Intrigue abounds, but this time not with the agency, per se, but with the two families of these main characters. Hunter’s wealthy family is disappointed in his (perceived) occupation and lack of ambition (they believe he is a clerk), while Gypsy’s mother reveals a well kept secret about Gypsy’s father and their past relationship with RCSI. As the story continues, more and more secrets are revealed and various exploits from the past reach into the present to affect the future of the characters and future issues of the storyline. Enter the fey… Volume 2 contains issues 8-14 with an additional short story, “Lifts and Liaisons,” and a cover gallery, and sketchbook.

In much the same spirit as Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo, the characters are depicted as different animal species but no attention is made to the attributes of those specific species. The two main characters are both feisty individuals who may be attracted to each other physically, but maintain a professional friendship. The large cast of supporting characters are easily distinguished from one another by their concrete appearance and personality traits.

All issues of Code Name: Hunter are available in the online archive. The illustrations are coloured online, but published in black and white in the print anthologies, accompanied by great washes of grey and black tones with infrequent detailed background. The focus here is on the characters and the action enveloping and surrounding them, and it is done very successfully.

Code Name: Hunter

by Darc Sowers, Matt Sowers
Vol. 1, A Political Spell ISBN: 9780984170302
Vol. 2, Internal Affairs ISBN: 9780984170319
RCSI Publishing, 2009, 2012
Publisher Age Rating: Pg-13

  • Gail

    | She/Her Professor, Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta


    In addition to teaching at the School of Library and Information Studies (University of Alberta) where she is an adjunct professor, Gail tells stories and conducts workshops on a wide variety of topics across Canada and the United States. Each year she teaches the following courses for the University of Alberta. All of her courses are delivered online: Storytelling, Comic Books and Graphic Novels in School and Public Libraries, Canadian Children’s Literature for School and Public Libraries and Young Adult Literature. She also teaches a course on Indigenous Literature for the ATEP program (Aboriginal Teacher Education Program) at the University of Alberta. Gail is the award-winning author of nine books on storytelling and folklore in popular culture.

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