"Severed Head Cult" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Iron Shod Ape
Written and illustrated by Gareth Sleightholme
2016, 52 Pages
Harry runs for his life through the streets of Copenhagen. Monsters lurk in the shadows. Is he the one doing the hunting? Or is he being hunted himself? At long last, he finds his target and confronts an amorphous and tentacled creature. I'm sure Harry has had better days.
Severed Head Cult jumps right into intrigue and tension as Harry is on the run. You can feel every footfall. He's not in the best shape, so you can imagine how much all this exercise is draining him. What choice does he have really? If he doesn't force himself to put one foot in front of the other, he and others nearby will pay the ultimate price.
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You get the sense that Harry is only partially put together. He might look fine when he's standing still, but when pushed into such a fast-moving activity, he starts to come apart at the seams. Writer / artist Gareth Sleightholme puts him in some odd and occasionally humorous positions. Despite his out-of-shape appearance, Henry is a rather capable monster fighter. He doesn't show fear and he's definitely capable.
What is strange about Severed Head Cult is the pacing. The comic opens with this exciting run through the streets and right when it gets interesting, the book flashes a month into the past to a college lecture. This goes on and on, sucking all of the momentum and action out of the story. It's such a jarring change in pace, you practically get whiplash. It doesn't help that the professor's dialogue is very dry and dense, so much so that I'm not entirely sure what the heck he was really saying. It probably ties into the monster Harry fights later on, but I'm sure there were easier ways to explain the connection.
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Aside from this detour, Severed Head Cult is a harrowing tale of monster hunting. Sleightholme choreographs an excellent fight scene with a creature that flows like water, except in the face. That's unmoving and never changing for reasons that become apparent in a bit. The beast towers over Harry, displaying several different ways it can kill him.
Severed Head Cult is part of Sleightholme's Cthulhiad series. If this is what can be expected from it, I'm definitely interested in seeing more. He's created a terrifying world dripping with mythology and lore. It's like a more action-packed version of B.P.R.D. I could do without the abrupt jump into a textbook-like lesson though.