Thursday, February 4, 2021

Review of "Shadowhawks of Legend," graphic novel conceived by Jim Valentino and Kurt Busiek

 Review of

Shadowhawks of Legend, graphic novel conceived by Jim Valentino and Kurt Busiek

Five out of five stars

Vengeance and payback against evil

 There are four short stories in this graphic novel. Each is based on the principle of the innocent being attacked and killed or threatened with death by a governing authority. However, before the event reaches the conclusion, a mysterious figure arrives and thwarts the evildoers.

In the first, a gang of outlaws attacks an isolated ranch in New Mexico. The owner is tied to a fence and beaten by the gang leader in an attempt to get him to give over the ranch. When the gang leader kills the man and then his wife he grabs the daughter and takes her inside with rape on his mind. He orders his gang members to stand guard outside. Before he can complete his nefarious deed, a masked avenger arrives and deals with the gang.

 The setting for the second is in Japan during the reign of the Shoguns. An innocent man is being forced to commit Seppuku (ceremonial suicide) for his supposed crimes. The man responsible for the crimes has framed him. In this case, the avenger is a master swordsman Samurai, and he seeks vengeance against the framer and all that serve him.

 The third is set in France in the year 1627, during the time when Cardinal Richelieu was the real power in the country. A man is to be put to death on the orders of the Cardinal and this time a masked swordsman arrives on a horse and frees the man and escapes. He is aided by a hawk that gouges out the executioner’s eyes.

 The fourth is set in two time frames, a more modern one in 1904 where a clay tablet has been discovered containing very old hieroglyphics. It is delivered to a man capable of translating it and he described an even that took place thousands of years earlier. A shaman consumed hallucinogenic mushrooms and had a vision of communicating with star travelers. The priests consider him a danger to the power of their order in society, so they kill him when he is in a vulnerable trance. There is no avenging force in this story.

 These stories are very much within the genre of a great wrong being set right by a powerful and deadly hero capable of overpowering overwhelming numbers of others. They are entertaining and the premises of outlaws, corrupt Japanese lords and a threat to the ruling power being put to death are all common in human history. I recommend this simple graphic novel.

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