"Hook Jaw #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Titan Comics
Written by Si Spurrier
Illustrated by Conor Boyle
Colored by Giulia Brusco
2016, 36 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on December 21st, 2016
Sharks are scary enough on their own. Jaws made an entire generation of theatre-goers afraid to go into the water. What could make it more terrifying? How about a harpoon sticking out of its mouth? Now it'll stab you, then bite you. That's Hook Jaw.
It sounds silly, but in practice it's pretty creepy, especially the way artist Conor Boyle illustrates the title character. Our first glimpse of the shark isn't until the very last page. I'm not spoiling anything by saying that. The book is named after the creature and you'd expect it to show up sooner or later. I'm just bummed it took so long for it to make an appearance. This is a massive animal, far bigger than other large sharks that are swimming nearby. It's face (do sharks have faces?) is scarred up, showing signs of battle. The eye facing the reader is blank, presumably as it's now blind, at least on this side. Then there's the hook, jutting out from its gills, up through its mouth. It looks like it's painful just to move, let alone swim.
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What sets Hook Jaw apart is that you actually hear its internal monologue. It has an unstoppable need to kill, maim, and eat flesh. The text is jagged and warped, like its having trouble forming these thoughts. Letterer Rob Steen did a great job setting these words apart from the rest of the text with a raw, animalistic quality.
The rest of the book introduces us to the humans, which will probably end up as lunch for Hook Jaw. A group of scientists are working to tag local sharks to track their behavior off the coast of Somalia. They'd led by a foul-mouthed older woman. At one point, the ship is boarded by pirates, which the crew shrugs off as they have nothing of value. This creates some humorous scenes, especially with the dreadlocked white guy who's trying and failing to be strong and supportive.
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With the humans introduced and the monster shark revealed, all that's left is to start making bets as to who gets eaten first. Even though they're safe on a boat, you just know that they're all going to end up in the water sooner or later. After seeing what this creature is capable of, I'm sure they're in no rush. There's a great scene where they get a camera in the water and you see their reactions, but not what's on screen. They're shocked and terrified. When you finally get a glimpse of it yourself, it's nothing but a cloud of red.
Hook Jaw has a slow start, but the reveal of the shark is worth the price of admission. If you're a fan of Jaws, you'll like this comic. Every time someone is close to or in the water, you get this feeling of dread, knowing the beast lurking beneath the surface. Plus, this is the first time I've seen a grown man hit with a severed dolphin's head, so I can check that off the old bucket list.