THE HOUNDS OF HELL (Humanoids, 2011; Softcover)
Collects La Meute De L'enfer Nos. 1-4 (cover dates January, 2004- May, 2010), originally published in French by Les Humanoides Associes
Writer: Philippe Thirault
Artists: Christian Hojgaard (Nos. 1, 2), Drazen Kovacevic (No. 3), and Roma Surzhenko (No. 4)
The Hounds of Hell are a group of mercenaries who have gone their separate ways after their previous mission ended with the death of a teammate. They are all older seasoned warriors who have battle scars, be they physical, mental, or emotional. They are tricked into reforming by Empress Augusta and her underling, Delenius, who want to send them on a quest in the service of the old Gods which are all but dead with the onset of Christianity.
The team is comprised of Epidamnos the Avian, your prerequisite sorcerer and team leader; Camarina the Panther, a deposed Princess who is blind and uses a spear-like weapon; Triada the Archeress; Khorsabad, a/k/a Three Hands, a swordsman with a missing hand who uses his feet in a sword fight; and finally, Harane of Tyr, a man who wears a helmet which grants him invincibility but scars the face of the wearer.
The Hounds fight all sorts of monstrosities in their quest, with each step in their journey becoming more perilous than the last. It is difficult to go further into the story than this, because anything else that I say will reveal a plot twist, which is something that I tend to avoid in this blog. Suffice it to say that this is great stuff.
The artwork is handled by three different artists, with Christian Hojgaard doing the bulk of the book. The other two artists divide the remaining 70 or so pages, and I prefer their artwork to Hojgaard. I am not slighting Hojgaard's work, as it is good, merely stating my preference for Kovacevic and especially Surzhenko. It's all good stuff though.
The Hounds of Hell is high-flying sword and sorcery, Sixth century A.D. adventure. I'm not much of a Dungeons & Dragons kind of guy but can appreciate well done stuff in that vein, and that's exactly what this is. Well written and well drawn, this was difficult to put down. I recommend reading this when you can set aside two or so hours. Think of it as a feature length film in 196 page comic book form.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.5 out of 5.
The OCD zone- These Humanoids books are heavy duty affairs. Even their trade paperbacks are taller and wider than normal comics.
Paper rating: 5 out of 5. Beautiful thick coated stock with a slight sheen. Is it wrong to admit that I like huffing these toxic Chinese made books?
Binding rating: 4.5 out of 5. Sewn binding in a softcover? Humanoids, I think I love you...
Cardstock cover coating rating: 5 out of 5. Thick durable coating on an extra thick cardstock cover. It's like Humanoids reached right into my anal-retentive obsessive compulsive mind and picked out all of the right ingredients to make their books beautiful.