Comic Picks By The Glick

Hillbilly vol. 1

May 22, 2020

In the years since I finished with Eric Powell’s signature series, “The Goon,” he’s returned to it and is two volumes into the latest series.  While I’m not about to see if it’s worth reading again, his Image miniseries with Tim Wiesch, “Big Man Plans,” made it clear that I should still make time for him on other creator-owned projects.  Now, years after its debut, I’ve finally read through the first volume of his Backwoods Appalachian “Conan” series “Hillbilly.”  If that description doesn’t immediately captivate you, know that it’s about Rondel, a prodigiously hairy black-eyed man who roams the region while wielding the Devil’s Cleaver and taking vengeance against the witches that inhabit the woods.

 

It’s not just witches, though they factor prominently into the stories of the first three issues.  There are also magical and cursed MacGuffins to drive the stories and even a cameo by Buzzard from “The Goon.”  Most of these stories are also pretty straightforward as they involve the title character encountering some trouble, dealing with it using his cleaver, and either sussing out the real cause afterwards or lamenting his sorry state.  It’s all pretty straightforward without much backstory or hint of an overall plot.  Though I’ll sympathize with Powell’s regret that he wasn’t able to get further into Rondel’s history with tomboy Esther.

 

What makes this first volume worth reading is the character that Powell invests into these stories.  His art is just as impressive as I remember it, as he gives these backwoods a very lived-in and memorably creepy look to them while Rondel himself cuts an imposing yet sympathetic figure.  The volume is also littered with memorable bits like the origin of the Iron Child, young Esther and Rondel hunting a giant boar with a bow-harpoon, Rondel’s conversation with the hanging tree, his encounter with genuine hospitality.  What I’m saying is that what the comic lacks so far in inventive plotting, it makes up for in artistry and an abundance of character.  It may be pricey -- this collection of four issues plus extras will run you $18 -- but it shows to me that Powell is still a creator worth following.  Time to catch up on reading this one…

 

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