Review: Allen: Son of Hellcock #1
“Allen: Son of Hellcock #1 is one of the funniest launches to a comic book series I’ve set my eyes on this year. While clutching on to the funny, Allen: Son of Hellcock lovingly pokes at fantasy tropes while embracing and revering them for what they bring to the table.”
Allen: Son of Hellcock #1
Publisher: Z2 Comics
Writers: Gabe Koplowitz and Will Tracy
Artist: Miguel Porto
Release Date: Wed, December 16, 2015
Humor writing, especially in comic books, can be a dicey endeavor. It’s been said by some creators that humor can be more difficult to pull off than drama, and it’s not a stretch to consider. Bringing the jokes and the funny can require a tightrope walk, depending on the intent or intents of the creators. Luckily, writers Gabe Koplowitz and Will Tracy and artist Miguel Porto know how to straddle that line with ease, as evidenced by Z2 Comics’ Allen of Hellcock #1.
Allen is every awkward, nebbish adult you’ve ever passed on the way out of your local Starbucks. Living in a world that’s part Dungeons & Dragons, part Greenwich Village, Allen is a nice enough fella, trying to keep his head down and live life as best he can. However, what sets Allen apart from the other folks in his world is his lineage, for he is the son of Hellcock, a Conan/Thor-type warrior who was known for his daring deeds and slaughter of enemies before his untimely death. Now, Allen is haunted by the spectre of his father in a couple of ways: Not only do people look at Allen and wonder how the apple could fall so far from the tree, but the spirit of his dad is literally hanging out with Allen constantly, badgering him about how to live his life.
It’s no surprise that Allen works as well as it does as a fantasy humor comic. In their interview with FreakSugar, Tracy and Koplowitz noted Sergio Aragones’ Groo and Robert Howard’s Conan world of stories, and the over-the-top creatures and bombastic Hellcock are part and parcel of aspects of those works. However, what makes Allen such a nimble read is that, while the book is chockful of jokes and crammed with winks and nods to Groo and fantasy in general, none of those pieces of funny fall flat. Take, for instance, Allen’s roommate subtle and not-so-subtle jabs at the son of Hellcock’s awkwardness in stark contrast to his famous father. While those jokes are chucklelicious, they are all in the service of advancing the story. That’s no shock, however, as Tracy’s work with Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and Koplowitz’s writing with VH1 are indicative that their humor is always stacked in nature, whether to elicit laughter and storytelling or guffaws and plotting. And with their work in the television medium, the two seem to innately know how to transfer that work to cram as much story and world-building as possible in limited confines such as the average comic book issue. Monsters and sword-wielders and decapitated warriors litter the landscape and leave the reader marveling at the sheer volume of things for the eyeballs to gaze upon.
Those touches are crucial to making the tale work, and Porto brings them magnificently to life. A key reason why Allen works so well as a model example of what a humor comic can achieve can be seen in how his art blends comedy and character development. Enough can’t be said as to how Porto really makes use of Koplowitz and Tracy’s plot to make the story move along in a funny, engaging way. However, what makes Porto’s linework really stand out is the characterization that he pours into the faces of Allen, his pops, and the rest of the cast of the series. A skilled artist can make an audience chortle with the right brush strokes and a splash of a goofy face or well-drawn pratfall. However, it’s the exceptional cartoonist who can take the goofy and the zany and make the viewer give a damn about the cast. Look at Chuck Jones’ work with Bugs Bunny and the rest of the Merry Melodies gang. Sure, those shorts are the height of hilarity, but unless Jones imbued the characters with the right amount of humanity, audiences wouldn’t have cared as much for their tales as they did. Likewise, Porto’s art, while hilarious, manages to make us connect with Allen, too, as he attempts to awkwardly flirt with a lady and rebuff his father’s constant haranguing. The weariness in his face brings an emotional oomph necessary for the story to work.
Allen: Son of Hellcock #1 is one of the funniest launches to a comic book series I’ve set my eyes on this year. In a year packed with such books as Jem and the Holograms and Welcome to Showside debuting in comic shops, that a high bar that Tracy, Porto, and Koplowitz have hurdled. While clutching on to the funny, Allen: Son of Hellcock lovingly pokes at fantasy tropes while embracing and revering them for what they bring to the table.
Allen: Son of Hellcock #1, written by Will Tracy and Gabe Koplowitz with Miguel Porto on art, is on sale now.