The Chronicles of Hawkmoon: The History of the Runestaff Vol. 2 HC
Publisher: Titan Comics
Release Date: January 22, 2020
Price: $39.99
Creator(s): Michael Moorcock (author); James Cawthorn (writer/artist)
Format: 144 pgs., B&W, 8"x10.5", Hardcover
ISBN: 978-1-7858-6423-0
Age Rating: Mature
ICv2 Rating: 4 Stars out of 5

Forty-some years ago, when graphic novels were a new thing, James Cawthorn approached the task of creating some for Michael Moorcock’s elaborate and outrageous Eternal Champion stories.  Because the format was new, there were no real "rules," only guidelines based on what people would buy.  In this case, though, fans of Moorcock or Cawthorn would have bought a role of paper towels, if the two had collaborated on it, so Cawthorn just went over the top, with wild illustrations in a pointillist style combined with outrageous illustrations based on this surreal fantasy series.

There are pages of warriors in animal masks fighting other warriors flying ornithopters.  There is a fold-out of an army simply getting ready to do battle, while uttering threats.  Much of the book is combat, with blends of swords and energy guns.

The book’s only weakness is that it would be a terrible jumping-on point, because this book is an adaptation of the third and fourth volumes of a four-volume series.  Since the story was by Michael Moorcock at the point where he was creating a multi-universal, multi-temporal set of links between most of his novels, anyone not familiar with what came before the story in this book would be utterly baffled.  The map helps explain the odd names for places in this alternate world, but even the ubiquitous Jerry Cornelius character who roams through Moorcock’s fiction has an altered name in this story.

On the other hand, people who have only heard of Cawthorn’s art, but who like Moorcock’s writing, will want this and the other related volumes that Titan has released.  Not everyone will appreciate Cawthorn’s art style, and some will regret that the book has only a few pages of color art, but the style is a good match for the somewhat chaotic story being adapted here.

Because of nudity and graphic violence, this is intended for adults.

--Nick Smith: Library Technician, Community Services, for the Pasadena Public Library in California.