Cannon, Zander – Heck

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Heck

That may have been the best adventure graphic novel I’ve read all year. Hell, that may be the best adventure comic I’ve read in many years, and I’m not putting “ever” there purely to avoid hyperbole. It’s yet another case where I mostly don’t want to talk about it at all and instead just want to implore everybody to read it, but I’ll try to thread that needle of making you want to read it without telling you too much. Things start off simply enough, with the lead character (with the nickname of “Heck”) coming back to his hometown for the funeral of his father. Heck was a football star in high school, so pretty much his entire surviving graduating class is there, and we learn quickly that Heck never wanted to be like his father. We also learn that his dad has a “creepy” old house up on a hill, and it’s up to Heck to go through it to see what should be salvaged. The former water boy from his high school team, Elliot, sneaks into the house to help Heck out and, after explaining how lousy his life is at the moment, Heck allows Elliot to help him. While going through the place they find a gate to hell, and that’s when things get weird. Oh, and this is the first chapter in the book out of 17. In the next chapter we have moved forward five years and Heck has a business set up in his father’s old house where he finds out buried secrets of lost loved ones. Amy, Heck’s old high school crush, hires Heck after her husband is killed suddenly in a car wreck. Heck tells her that he finds this buried information by literally talking to the deceased loved ones, and he does that by finding them in hell. And if it’s all the same to you I’ll stop the descriptions there, as watching this fantastic story unfold was a genuine joy and I don’t want to deprive you of even a little bit more of it. Yes, that mummy on the cover is explained, and explained beautifully. The rings of hell are similar to the rings in Dante’s Inferno (it’s been too long since I’ve read it to say if they’re the exact same rings), and Heck’s interactions with the various guardians are among the many highlights of the book. This touches on having meaning in life, the reasons why we do things, friendship, punishment and love. I almost gave away something right there but hah! You’re not going to trip me up that easily. I was expecting some version of a big dumb adventure story from that cover, and I could not have been more wrong. There’s not a dumb thing about this. This was apparently released online as an adventure serial, so maybe you’re one of the lucky people who already read this, but even if you did, this version is gorgeous. Buy it and enjoy, and know that if I did any kind of “best of” yearly list (I don’t, mostly due to faulty memory and a general annoyance at the subjectivity of such things), this would be right at the top of it. $20

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