Norgal the Head Lopper and Agatha the Blue Witch, have braved the black bogs of Barra and cut through the challenges of the Crimson Tower. Now, our unlikely duo returns to lock swords with The Knights of Venora. Whether you’re new to the series or a longtime fan, should you jump on board for Norgal’s latest adventure?
There’s less action than in previous chapters. Most of the issue is taken up by expository dialogue setting up the story. This is surprising considering that Head Lopper issues are more than double the page count of other comics.
Norgal and Agatha don’t want to work together but can’t seem to get rid of each other. The origins of this strange relationship have been a mystery since volume one. With this latest arc it appears that their cursed relationship will finally be explained.
However, with every question that is answered two more are introduced. In the first issue, we’re exposed to new lore that re-contextualizes everything that has happened in Norgal’s story up until this point. MacLean also introduces a massive host of supporting characters. Heroes, villains, anti-heroes, and ambivalent gods–all are present and have their own conflicting motives.
The art has shifted out from under Mignola’s cubist shadow. MacLean appears to be channeling the hatching and round shapes of Moebius and Miyazaki. This artistic shift is tonally appropriate for the story’s new setting which blends in elements of Arabian Nights fantasy.
The Knights of Venora is simultaneously a fresh start and the culmination of years of storytelling. Each Head Lopper volume feels like a lens that is steadily growing wider, as characters explore new lands that are part of a larger world.
I was so engrossed by the story and characters that I didn’t mind the lack of action. The new characters are well-designed and endearing. I hope that more of Norgal’s allies make it out alive this time.
With this latest arc, we also see a different side of Norgal. The emotional wounds left by the events of The Crimson Tower are still affecting him. What will happen if Norgal doesn’t feel up to being a hero just when the world needs him most?
Look for Head Lopper #9 at your local comic shop on September 12th, 2018, from Image Comics.