Thursday, 26 January 2017

Hook Jaw #1 - Titan Comics

HOOK JAW No. 1, January 2017
Based upon the giant shark who first appeared inside the “controversial weekly British anthology comic” “Action” and apparently “had no problem tearing women and child apart… in graphic detail”, Simon Spurrier’s script for Issue One of “Hook Jaw” probably came as something of a disappointment to its 4,249 readers, with its particularly bizarre tale of a scientific research vessel being raided by Somali pirates and subsequently rescued by a team of United States Navy S.E.A.L.S. In fact, it is arguably rather hard to see many similarities at all between this twenty-two page periodical and the ‘environmentally edgy' “Jaws” cash-in which eventually lead to the titular character’s magazine being ‘pulped’ by the “International Publishing Corporation” in October 1976.

True, the British novelist’s narrative does consistently present the menace of a female Great White shark suddenly attacking one of the ship’s crewmembers, courtesy of “the world-famous virgin brides” Agatha, Carmel and Big Bertha. But such a sense of pervading peril, occasionally heightened by a dorsal fin or two breaking the water’s surface, is hardly the sort of vivid mutilation anticipated by a franchise infamous for its stories being literally “drenched in blood and gore”.

Mercifully though, Hook Jaw is not entirely absent from this mini-series’ opening instalment, and when Captain Klay’s United States Special Operations team does encounter the formidably-sized Carcharodon carcharias, the sense of horror is still incredibly palpable even though the gaff-hooked monster tears his prey to pieces ‘off-screen’. Indeed, in many ways the fate of the two scuba-divers is made all the more unpleasant as a result of their piteous pleas resonating across their underwater equipment’s audio feed; “Ohhh no more please no more please no more pluh-hee-heeese. Nnnno Mommy pleeheeeeease go away get away not like this I don’t wanna daa aaa aaa…”

Sadly, Conor Boyle’s breakdowns for the majority of this comic are not a patch on the original series’ artwork by Seventies sketching ‘superstar’, and Hook Jaw’s co-creator, Ramon Sola, with the illustrator’s somewhat quirky, stiff-looking figures proving a particular disappointment. Having said that however, the freelancer’s incredible ability to draw anatomically correct sharks and imbue their gliding forms full of spine-tingling danger, makes it abundantly clear just why “Titan Comics” hired him to contribute to this publication.
The regular cover art of "Hook Jaw" No. 1 by Conor Boyle & Luis Gurrero

2 comments:

  1. I have very fond memories of Hookjaw. I bought every issue of Action and this extremely gory tale was my favourite series of that much-maligned comic. Personally, I loved Action comic! That probably doesn't surprise you, Simon! I thought long and hard about adding this new version to my pull list. In the end I decided not to and if it got good reviews I'd buy the TPB. If it turned out bad, at least I wouldn't have wasted my money on it. Upon reading your review, I feel I made the right decision.

    QUOTE: "...the gaff-hooked monster tears his prey to pieces ‘off-screen’." Off screen? Are you kidding? This never happened in the original series. Every death was shown in very graphic and bloody detail. This is the Hookjaw I want to see! If you continue to review this series I'll be reading your reviews with much anticipation and I hope the gore quotient increases considerably. Otherwise, I'll let the series pass. I know, I know. I'm such a gore hound! :-)

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    1. Bryan, I did think you might comment on this one. Yes I will be getting the entire mini-series, and have already read #2. I actually ended up having to buy #1 from "Forbidden Planet" as it was incredibly expensive on Ebay. I did think that was due to its popularity but as it only sold just over 4k copies I'm more inclined to believe it simply didn't print enough.

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