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The Hedge Knight #3

July 13, 2010 Leave a comment

February 28, 2004

Quick Rating: Good

Dunk wins his way into the tournament, meets a beautiful lass, and gets a glimpse of what happens to jousters unprepared for battle.

Writers: George R.R. Martin & Ben Avery
Pencils: Mike S. Miller
Inks: Mike Crowell
Colors: Lynx Studio
Letters: Bill Tortolini
Editor: Robert Silverberg
Cover Art: Mike S. Miller & Anders Finer (Cover A); Tom Mandrake & Mark Stefanowicz (Cover B)
Publisher: Image Comics/Roaring Studios

Snoooore… snooore… skrk — Wha? Whuzzat? Oh, good golly, did issue #3 of The Hedge Knight finally come out? Well, it’s only been about five months between issues, I suppose these things happen. Let’s see if I can remember where we were – oh yeah, after Ser Arlen died his squire, Dunk, took his armor and shield as his own, accidentally picked up a squire named Egg and is attempting to enter a jousting tournament. As this issue (finally) starts, he is pleading his case to Lord Plummer, hoping to win the nobleman’s favor.

The intolerable lateness of this issue aside, it’s a very good, solid read. Ben Avery really does a good job of adapting George R.R. Martin’s novella into a comic book script, making Dunk seem sympathetic instead of just opportunistic. You start to feel for him even more as we watch the tournament begin and Dunk sees the brutal treatment he may be in for himself when his turn to fight comes.

We also get introduced to Tanselle Too-Tall, a lovely young woman of an artistic bent that clearly tugs on Dunk’s heart right away. Avery also gets credit for keeping my favorite line from the book: “All men are fools and all men are knights, where women are concerned.” No folling.

Mike S. Miller is on his way to being a comic book superstar. His jousting scenes take a cue from manga action sequences but never sacrifice his own skill or influences. His characters each have a good look — Tanselle, for instance, isn’t exactly a typical beauty, but she’s got an unmistakable loveliness that makes you understand how Dunk can be smitten so quickly. Even something as mundane as a puppet show works under Miller’s pencils, with great angles and fine linework that’s a little lighter than the rest of the issue, sort of setting it apart.

The Hedge Knight is a great comic book, and with the sequel in bookstores in the recently-published Legends II anthology (also edited by Robert Silverberg), interest in this story should be at a high. It would be nice if that interest brought some of the readers of the fantasy novels over into the comic books, which are some of the best fantasy comics on the shelves — only the ridiculous lateness of the issue knocks a point off this book’s final score. We can only hope there’s not another five-month gap before the story continues.

Rating: 7/10

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The Hedge Knight #2

May 30, 2010 Leave a comment

October 25, 2003

Quick Rating: Very Good

Dunk gets the money he needs to enter the tournament, but finds another obstacle in his path.

Writers: George R.R. Martin and Ben Avery
Pencils: Mike S. Miller
Inks: Mike Crowell
Colors: Lynx Studio
Letters: Bill Tortolini
Editor: Robert Silverberg
Cover Art:Mike S. Miller (cover a), Boris Vallejo & Julie Bell (cover b)
Publisher: Image/Roaring Studios

It’s hard to tell how hands-on George R.R. Martin is with this title, as it is an adaptation of his novella from Silverberg’s 1998 Legends anthology, but together he and Ben Avery have taken a solid fantasy book and created one of the best fantasy comics in some time.

Dunk, the squire who buried his master at the beginning of the first issue, has made his way to the tourney where he hopes to prove his worth as a knight, while trying to hide the fact that the late Ser Arlen never actually knighted him. He finds himself with his own squire, the boy Egg, and spends most of this issue trying to get the money and status he needs to compete.

The “self-declared sidekick” storyline isn’t new to this or any other comic book (lest we forget how Tim Drake became the third Robin), and this issue, save for one scene, is pretty low on action sequences, but it comes across as a really good portrait of the world that Dunk lives in and the rituals he has to go through to become a man. It also sets up a fairly major obstacle, as well as places many potential friends and enemies on the playing board. The dialogue is sharp – a combination of Avery’s skill and the dialogue Martin wrote in the original novella – and although some comics these days are shying away from using the protagonist as a narrator, it works here.

Miller’s artwork really stands out here. It brings to mind the strengths of Paul Pelletier at his best on Flash and Negation. It tells the story smoothly and effectively, and it’s nice and clean, without relying on excessive details to cover up flaws the way some artists do. The night scenes, in particular, come across well, no doubt thanks to the contributions of Lynx Studio on the colors. I was particularly impressed with the page with the purple lightning – beautiful stuff.

A few pages (in my copy at least) came out sort of blurry, but it looks like an error with the printing rather than an error on the part of the artists. It only hurts the book a little, but with the announcement that Roaring Studios is following the lead of Devil’s Due and leaving Image, it makes you worry about more such problems in the future.

It’s a good comic, one that seems to be finding an audience. It will be interesting to see whether the people who pick it up will follow the story to A Song of Ice and Fire, the series of novels that the novella served as a prelude to.

Rating: 7/10