'Barbarism is the natural state of mankind,' the borderer said, still staring somberly at the Cimmerian. 'Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph.'

-Robert E. Howard
Beyond The Black River

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Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Hawks of Outremer (2010)

I hope everyone in the US and Canada had good holiday weekends. Today i've got something a little different for you. A review of an older title. I learned about this book when the cover came across my Facebook feed through one of the many Conan groups I monitor. I initially thought it might be a new title, but as it turns out it was released in 2010 physically and in 2014 digitally.

Hawks of Outremer was published as a 4 part miniseries by BOOM! I picked it up on Comixology on Sunday to give it a read with my coffee. I picked it up as the compiled trade book.

Adaption: Michael Alan Nelson
Writer: Robert E Howard
Artist: Damian Couceiro
Colorist: Juan Manuel Tumburus
Letterer: Johhny Lowe
Cover Artist: Joe Jusko

Cover Price: $6.99
Pages: 90+

As usual, the cover of these books is the easiest place to start. Joe Jusko is maybe best known for his John Carter of Mars, Conan or Tarzan depictions. No matter how you know his work, it is generally of high quality. He is without a doubt one of the Masters of fantasy painting working today. These covers are good and fit the narratives well, although I am not sure they are Joe's best work. Whether it is or not they are all good and all evocative of the narrative found within the pages.

The 90 pages of panels and story drawn by Damian Couceiro and colored by Juan Manel Tumburus are excellent and fit the story being told quite well. From the small panels to the epic, from the mundane to the violent, this book does not disappoint.

I had not read the story by Robert E Howard when I picked up the comic, so all I had to go on was the comic itself. This means the comic got a fair shake regardless of what I thought of Howard's writing. In the end, I quite enjoyed the book and would recommend it to people interested in Howard, pulp fiction or action tales.

Arriving at the end of the book, which I devoured in a single sitting (100 comic pages doesn't take that long), I found an afterword by Mark Finn. I didn't read all of Mark's words, but he seemed to be suggesting this was a good adaption. He even makes the comment that Michael Alan Nelson had quite often used Howard's own words within the pages instead of trying to do it better. You can find the story online at Gutenberg and also in Del Rey's "Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures".

I have since picked the story up and read a little of it to see how I felt it seemed to match and I can tell you the opening scenes are well done.

The story itself is a fairly straight forward tale of vengeance with a slight mystery about what is going on. It is an action-packed romp set against the crusades. On the surface, Cormac is similar to Conan. Both are forces of nature, skilled at combat and very definitely their own man. If we had more time to develop and explore the character I am sure we would see many, many differences between the two.

Normally I would talk about how well I think the story hits the Sword and Sorcery notes for me, but this isn't a sword and sorcery tale, it is historical fiction. So instead of the weird, we will talk of the mundane. The historical flavor of this piece is good. Crusaders and Moslems and the peace of Saladin. We have iron-clad men of Europe in battle against each other as well as the Moslems of the holy land. Besides the art lending the historical flavor of the setting, the use of actual places all lend to bring the reader into a time of European powers carving small kingdoms into the holy land.

Without further discussion, let's see how many skulls of my enemies I think the warrior of the grinning skull deserves!




Historical Flavor:

A solid 4.5 out 5 skulls!

I really liked this adaption. It felt good to me and was a fun read. I was happy to find it was a solid adaption of Howard's work. If you are a fan of Howard and haven't read Hawks, in either this form or in the prose form, I recommend getting out and finding a copy. If you use Comixology in the US, it is available under the Unlimited level.

One final note, after reading this tale I went and found a copy at AbeBooks at the Book Depository and ordered a physical copy of it.

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