The second adventure of creator Andrew MacLean’s Head Lopper -- Norgal if you’re one of his friends -- couldn’t have come at a better time. We’re in the dry period between the end of Dark Horse publishing new comics and Marvel starting up their own take on the adventures of “Conan” that there’s a distinct lack of barbarian-based action comics out there right now. “The Crimson Tower” fills that void as it has Head Lopper following two warriors of the Kota, Zhaania the master and Xho the disciple, to the titular tower on a mission of mercy that’s going to involve the slaying of an undead wizard. Ulrich the Twice-Damned is the master of the Tower and Head Lopper and his companions are only a few of the warriors he has welcomed inside on the pretense that if they slay him, everything he has will be theirs. In actuality, Ulrich is just waiting until these warriors fall victim to the Tower’s many traps and defenses so he can use their leftover parts in his experiments.
“Head Lopper & the Crimson Tower’s” biggest fault is that it doesn’t offer anything to change the mind of people who would pass it by because of its resemblance to “Conan” or that it’s a sword-and-sorcery title. If you’re like me, however, and you did get a kick out of the first volume then vol. 2 will still offer a satisfying experience. MacLean’s style continues to be impeccable and he makes the many regions of the Tower memorably distinct and displays the action in a clear and engaging manner. There’s also a surprising amount of heart to the story to keep you involved with it as well. From Zhaania’s mentorship of Xho to her own personal reasons for coming to the Tower, to the tiny Twerpal of the Fonga people who only winds up in this conflict because he was looking out for his little brother Bik and now has to contend with a situation that’s far bigger than he is, literally and figuratively. As for Head Lopper, he remains the same as he ever was, with his banter between the head of the Blue Witch providing an effective means of comic relief throughout. So even if what MacLean has to offer here isn’t exactly new, it’s still done with a freshness that keeps the story engaging throughout.