In the follow up volume to Head Lopper Vol. 1: The Island or A Plague of Beasts, Norgal, otherwise known as the Head Lopper, and his companions (Xho, Zhaania of the Kota people, and Agatha, the severed head of a witch) must enter the Crimson Tower. As they approach the tower, they encounter others who are waiting for the doors of the Crimson Tower to open so that they may enter and have the chance at eternal glory. Among those who enter are Bik and Twerpal of the people of Fonga Leaf.

There are many enemies within the Crimson Tower, but the ultimate is none other than Ulrich the Twice Damned. We soon learn that his most trusted and fiercest warrior, whom we met earlier in the volume, is known as Berserkr. To become the master of the Crimson Tower, Norgal and his companions will have to defeat them both in battle! But only after first retrieving four crystal eyes.

In style, there’s a big resemblance to the coloring, lines, and style to popular cartoons like Adventure Time. The colors are usually bright and bold which creates an interesting contrast to the heavy violence and bloodshed that is bound to persist in a comic series where the central character is known mainly for freeing people, creatures, and monsters of their heads.

The story is fast-paced, action-packed, and not overly text-heavy. Agatha, the severed head, provides a decent amount of comedic relief via her witty banter and actions. Adult readers who enjoy dungeon crawler plots of Conan the Barbarian will enjoy the adventures of Head Lopper. Readers may be happy to know that reading volume 1 is not a prerequisite for volume 2. Both volumes are unique and complete stories with new characters; only Norgal and Agatha are returning. Given the extreme violence, this title belongs in adult collections. That being said, with the cartoon-like style and the comedic relief provided by Agatha, Head Lopper will appeal to some older, mature teens.

While there are a lot of positives to this comic, some aspects did not work for me. Namely, I felt uncomfortable with how some characters were portrayed. Bik, Twerpal, and the rest of the Fonga Leaf people very closely resemble stereotypical depictions of Asian peoples. Their eyes are never more than rounded slits. Zhaania, a black woman, is drawn in a monkey-like pose with a vacant and featureless expression on her face. Finally, I felt uncomfortable with the frequency in which Norgal’s long, white hair and large, white, bushy beard often appeared to be more hood-like, obscuring his face entirely, rather than hair-like. Maclean, a white man, does portray all three of these peoples as heroes so I don’t feel that there was any malintention in this volume. I didn’t find these issues of insensitive characterization within the first volume, so here’s hoping that volume 2 was a fluke and there’s better representation of diverse peoples in volume 3.

Head Lopper, Vol. 2: The Crimson Tower
by Andrew Maclean
Art by Andrew Maclean, Jordie Bellaire
ISBN: 9781534305083
Image Comics, 2018
Publisher Age Rating: Mature

  • Candice

    Past Reviewer

    This reviewer is not longer actively working on our site, but we would not be here if not for our many dedicated contributors over the years. We thank all of them for their reviews, features, and support! After completing her MLIS (or, as she likes to call it, a degree in looking stuff up), Candice began working for Ottawa Public Library – most notably she’s worked as a Teen Services Librarian but she’s also dawned other hats including a stint as a Supervising Librarian and as a Digital Literacy Librarian. She is a strong supporter of the Oxford comma, dislikes lasagna immensely, and drinks copious amounts of tea. When it comes to comics, manga, books, and general geekdom, Candice doesn’t discriminate – she loves them all. Whovian-Amazon Goddess-Wizard-Sailor Scout- extraordinaire at your service!

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