Advance Review: The Death of Haggard West (One-Shot)

The Death of Haggard West is Paul Pope’s fascinating introduction to the world of Acropolis, the mythical location of his highly-anticipated graphic novel, Battling Boy, set to be released this October. This one-shot serves both as a prologue to his new graphic novel and the imaginary last issue/adventure of the beloved hero, Haggard West.

Here’s the official description from First Second:

Attention, citizens of the monster-ridden city-planet Arcopolis! The Death of Haggard West is the final installment in the legendary Invincible Haggard West comics series, the bestselling chronicle of the adventures of our beloved hero, Haggard West. In breathtaking color and frenetic action, this 32-page comic presents the final moments in the life of one of the greatest vigilante heroes Arcopolis has ever seen . . . and introduces his successor in the fight to save our city, Battling Boy.

A new Paul Pope comic is always a call for celebration. Instead of telling the origin story of Haggard West, Pope elects to tell how he was killed attempting to rescue children from the evil clutches of his arch nemesis Sadisto, a hood-wearing monster who vaguely resembles Cobra Commander. It’s a simple traditional superhero tale which is executed brilliantly by Pope. The most memorable scene isn’t the fight scene above the streets of Acropolis, but Haggard’s funeral narrated from his daugther’s perspective.  Let’s just say she knows more than she lets on in public about her father and the source of his super hero powers. Hopefully, this will be further explored in Battling Boy.

Throughout this issue, Pope only gives us hints of Haggard’s legendary past, leaving it up to the readers’ imagination to fill in the blanks. This issue is 101 of The Invincible Haggard West, a hero who turns out not to be so invincible. In a perfect world there would be a 100 more issues to read, but I’ll settle for one of such high quality.

Paul Pope is one of the best artists in the medium, especially at portraying action and dynamic movement. His panel layouts are superb. As much as I like Pope in black and white, I like his work even better in color, which perfectly complements his signature bold  line. The bright barrage of colors pop off the page and really help to elevate this comic.

Although The Death of Haggard West isn’t as original or groundbreaking as most of Pope’s work, stylistically it still soars. Pope somehow manages to make me care about a character he kills off in one issue. This reads like the opening sequence of a movie, which makes the comic feel somewhat incomplete, but still ultimately satisfying. I can’t wait to see where Pope takes this story.

4 1/2 out of 5 

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