Friday, 1 July 2016

Hillbilly #1 by Eric Powell Review

Eric Powell’s new series is set in a mythical old South filled with giant warped creatures, magical entities, and enchanted weapons. Through the gothic countryside backdrop walks Rondel, a blind man wielding the Devil’s Cleaver, accompanied by Lucille, an enormous talking bear. Together they hunt witches and such. This is Hillbilly. 

As a huge fan of Powell’s I want to say this first issue is all that and a tin of beans but it’s just ok. Powell’s taking his time with this new series, laying out Rondel’s origins first while setting the tone of this world - fantastical, dark, funny and dramatic, basically like The Goon’s - before launching into a storyline. 

And the origin isn’t bad. It’s a little slow-moving and vague - Rondel goes from being a kid to an adult instantly and we don’t see how he met Lucille - but it has some nice beats like how he has a tear-stained face, why he hates witches, and where the cleaver came from. Usually we get this stuff later down the line but I guess Powell wanted to get it out of the way first? It doesn’t make for the most gripping of first issues though. 

Powell’s art is outstanding as always. The subjects range from idyllic country vistas to compelling character designs like Rondel and the witch, all rendered beautifully throughout. Powell’s eye for storytelling shows us exactly what we need to see in the panel for that part of the story so everything unfolds nicely - he’s a master of this medium. 

I didn’t love this first issue. It’s a bit too slow, a little boring in places, and I’d hoped it would stand out more from Powell’s other comics, which it doesn’t; this could easily be a Goon spinoff/sidestory rather than its own thing. But it’s Eric Powell and I’m willing to give him time to show me his strange new world so I’ll stick around for a spell yet. Hillbilly #1 is a decent comic but definitely appeals more to Powell fans than general comics readers.

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