“You will make me regret I did not take your head the first time we met, Highlander.”
Highlander and Connor MacLeod are back in a new prequel tale from the original Highlander movie. MacLeod recounts his past with an old adversary and a new ally as he prepares for The Gathering in New York.
Highlander: The American Dream #1 really isn’t about the Highlander. Yes, he plays a large role in the story, but this opening issue is much more about his new ally, Osta Vazilek and the introduction of a new foe, John Hooke. Writer Brian Ruckley and artist Andrea Mutti do an excellent job with the characterization of both Vazilek and Hooke. The opening encounter with Vazilek is done really well and showcases his astute observation skills as well as his dangerous nature. And Ruckley does all of this with a simple conversation with MacLeod’s secretary, Rachel.
On the other hand, Ruckley and Mutti use action scenes to capture Hooke’s character. He is ruthless, immoral, and opportunistic. He makes Kane look like a pushover when it comes to the tactics he is willing to use to draw out the Highlander. They are brutal.
As for MacLeod himself, Ruckley shows us a completely different side to the legendary swordsman. Unfortunately, he doesn’t allow Mutti to really be involved in the characterization; instead, he opts for a few lines of dialogue to describe MacLeod’s less than impeccable state. It’s definitely a new take on the character and might upset diehard fans of MacLeod’s impervious honor and good character.
Ruckley and Mutti’s storytelling isn’t just one-dimensional; the story has layers, although the conflict between Hooke and the Highlander does take center stage. However, there are hints of a government agency tracking the immortals and the coming Gathering definitely preys on the minds of MacLeod and Vazilek.
Ruckley’s dialogue is extremely interesting. He seems to question the rules of Highlander on multiple occasions. He even questions the franchise’s tag line, “There can be only one.” And it’s not too far out of bounds, given the franchise’s history with constantly adding new villains and even heroes, to challenge Connor for the prize. He also flat out breaks the Immortal Golden Rule of sanctuary. While breaking this rule adds to Hooke’s character, it goes against what we saw in Highlander III when MacLeod’s sword is shattered during a conflict in a Buddhist temple.
Andrea Mutti’s artwork is far from the best work he has done. In fact, Connor MacLeod doesn’t even resemble Christopher Lambert whatsoever. When he first made an appearance, I wasn’t even sure it was him until the dialogue confirmed it. Yes, he’s wearing his traditional beige trench coat, jeans, and black shirt, but other than that he is indistinguishable.
The page design and panel layout is very simple. It makes for easy reading. You won’t have any problems figuring out which panel to read next; it all flows well. Mutti does make good use of inset panels on top of a large full page spread when recounting Vazilek’s past.
One thing Mutti does excel at is giving us multiple viewpoints during character conversations that make up the bulk of the issue. These camera angles add to Vazilek’s dangerous nature when he confronts Rachel, as well as create a sense of intrigue and mystery when Vazilek is chatting with MacLeod on the bridge. It keeps you involved in the story and engaged.
Vladimir Popov does a decent job with the colors. He uses a flatter palette to capture the classic movies’ tone and style. You feel like you are back in the 1980s and 1990s. He also makes it abundantly clear when we are no longer in 1985. When we venture to the Civil War era, the colors are darker and there is a lot more shading showcasing MacLeod’s descent from his “good man” status.
Highlander: The American Dream #1 has some good parts and some bad parts. The fact that Connor MacLeod looks nothing like Lambert was extremely distracting and detracted from the issue. There were also issues with the dialogue and some major questioning of Highlander staples, including its own tag line and even MacLeod’s upstanding character. However, the introduction of the two new characters was definitely intriguing and very well done and the story had some depth to it. Hopefully, the art and the story improve from here.
- Characterization of both Vazilek and Hooke
- The action scenes with Hooke
- MacLeod’s characterization
- Questioning of major Highlander bulwarks
- The depiction of MacLeod looked nothing like Christopher Lambert