Fantasy February and Magical March!
More like Hot Mess, but still lots of fun
Writer/Co-Creator – John Ostrander
Penciller/Co-Designer – Karl Waller
Penciller – Ben Dunn
Inker – Romeo Tanghal
Letters – Mindy Eisman
Colorist – Olyoptics
Editor/Co-Creator/Co-Deisgner – Dimpthy Truman
It is often times impossibly difficult to handle second issues from the Crapbox. By issue number two, a series creator may decide that all the setup he or she needed to do has been taken care of and that everyone is on board his little storyboat ready to cruise.
What they don’t expect is for someone to float up in a life raft and hop onboard asking “Where are we off to and why?”
That’s the Crapbox conundrum. It’s a sad thing too, because oftentimes there are really clear lead ups that explain the characters, tone, pacing, backstory and action. Sometimes the authors do a last issue summary box, but the times that they don’t are many times more fun.
Take this issue number two of the Eclipse three issue mini Hotspur, for instance…
We begin with the young gentleman called Hotspur being carried away from a castle by two ghosts. His exit from the premises is noted by two humanoids. One of them, a cross between a human and some type of prehistoric raptor dressed in the garb of a French musketeer, asks if he may shoot him. Preventing him from doing so is a human-crocodile with a goatee in the style of a handlebar with chin puff who wears the robes of a sorcerer. This odd reptile tells the other that he has to know more about Hotspur as he was unaffected by some certain god-power level amulet. So he sends a lizard-winged flying eyeball named Eilert after the man and his ghostly escort so that his facial-hairness can spy on Hotspur.
We aren’t out of the first page and already I have story whiplash. I mean, I’ve been thrust in some weird tales before, but this one almost takes the cake. The good news is the art for the first part of the book is by Karl Waller. Waller’s style sells me to keep reading, even though I feel like a man walking on slow quicksand. One false move and I’m going to lose where this story is taking me.
As for where the ghosts are taking Hotspur, that happens to be a building across town.
Hotspur is asleep, I now see and as the two spirits leave him in a chair, I learn how Eilert will help the bearded lizard man gain the info he seeks.
The book strikes a familiar and welcome tone here that's a mix of comedy and adventure. First Eiler makes its owner nauseous, so…
… his keeper turns his crystal ball upside down to compensate.
And with that, Hotspur begins to wake, his wardrobe sending all kinds of warning bells clanging “what the crap is going on here” to me. Who is Hotspur and what kind of land is this?
Thankfully a lifeline arrives on the next page.
Meet Norax, everyone. He’s here to exposition dump for a bit, which will provide the backstory that we need to understand just exactly what it is we are witnessing. What he won’t do is make this comic book’s universe any less strange and perplexing.
Norrax is a wizard seeking to be a God in the land or city (it’s unclear which) of Pagan Xoo. To that end he brought Hotspur over from our Earth. More than that, I should let the munchkin explain.
Oops! Looks like we both should be careful of that reference.
Norrax proceeds to tell him a bit more about the world in his own aggressively comical style, explaining that in this city of temples you can be a God if you get enough worshipers. He also mentions a certain “Butch” the ruler of the underworld, who doesn’t show up in this issue, but sounds like a shoe-in for a future one.
Anyway, Norrax only has three worshipers, which isn’t enough to do diddly-squat with. Especially since they aren’t the pick of the litter.
Oh, sorry, make that TWO worshipers.
With his worshipers so few in number, what’s a poor, upwardly motivated, ill-tempered dwarf wizard to do? Why look for a loophole, of course.
And that’s where Hotspur comes in. Seems Godhood can be bestowed up one anyone possessing the Lost Amulet of Kathique, and that’s why Norrax brought Hotspur over from our world.
Hotspur, which can’t be his name in our realm (but is I found out later), figures there’s more to this than Norrax is telling. Seems Norrax tried this once before with someone from Pagan Xoo with very mixed results.
Norrax holds the key to sending Hotspur back to his own world with his price set on the amulet. Also it seems Hotspur isn’t the first to be pulled from our world. Those two ghosts we saw were Norrax’s test group, unfortunately they died in transit.
Which really jog’s Hotspurs memory is that they are comedy celebrity couple from the early days of Hollywood.
And while Norrax may feel like he’s calling all the shots, Hotspur lets him know that his magical mistake with these two better be reversible, or else Norrax may feel Hotspur’s wrath.
Neat that we get a hero with no compunctions about making this sort of threat in a book where we know literally nothing about him at this point, besides that he is possibly some kind of actor from Earth.
And while Norrax is considering a double-cross of some type, the lizard man overseeing all this has new thoughts around his own servitude to the chief god.
So far this is a great issue. The characters are interesting and the comedy bits work. We have a motive for the hero’s actions and at least one villain that will work against him. Even with it being issue two and all of the hero’s backstory is non-existent, this book is chock full of great story, and the best part is that we are only half-way through it.
The ghosts carry Hotspur through the town, and they discuss an upcoming role they wanted playing The Thin Man and his wife in the movies. That being the classic black and white movie, we can tell how long these two have been dead. Also this appears to depress Hotspur a bit until they chance upon two figures embroiled in a kerfuffle. In fact it looks like an all out mob scene below, complete with torches and pitchforks.
Hotspur convinces the pair to let him “have some fun while they recharge” and he straps himself to a flagpole’s heavy elastic cord…
And launches into an acrobatics routine against the crowd below, who appear to be menacing a “Conan”-type barbarian…
…and the scantily-clad high priestess of Kathique, the sex goddess, whose amulet Hotspur has been sent to steal.
Our lizard man’s servant is still hot on Hotspur’s trail, however with all this bouncing fast action, the creature isn’t just seen by Hotspur…he actually ends up eyeball-to-eyeball with the young man.
Note the parallels here…
And as the action continues, her.
That is a clever bit and it gave me a slight chuckle. In fact, the whole book has been a huge fun blast, and it doesn’t stop yet. Hotspur saves the high priestess…
…encounters Eiler once more…
…earning, once and for all, the enmity of our bearded lizard man…
…but not before cutting the cord in such a way that poor Eiler gets whip-snapped into the next county.
The book is goofy and unabashedly revels in it. I mean, they crash through someone’s bedroom window, end up in bed between this elderly couple…
…and all the woman can think about is that Hotspur is the one man not affected by the goddess amulet’s current holder’s impotence spell.
There is smart writing under this thing and it has enough comedy to make it feel like a parody of a fantasy story. I mean, what kind of story has the hero save a fellow male fighter…
…only to have him come on to him because he’s one of the Gay Barbarian tribesmen?
Also, now that the action’s slowed down, maybe we should make with the introductions…
…whoa! Whoa! Too much backstory info. So Hotspur has them go one at a time, beginning with our lady’s story of the curse of the sex goddess.
So, the chief god got jealous that the sex goddess was doing what came naturally on the side and sentenced her to be imprisoned within an amulet. And the current amulet holder is Norrax’s champion, who has apparently made the trapped sex goddess mad at himself. In retribution for her cock-blocking him, he’s cock-blocked the entire city.
Hotspur, being from another world, isn’t affected by this “anti-viagra” spell, but he must prove this to the high priestess…much to the gay barbarian’s amusement.
And with that, the trio flanked by Hotspur’s ghostly pals, set off to steal the amulet and free men’s erections everywhere in Pagan Xoo!
Yeah, I’m…gonna need a moment.
There is so much meat crammed into one book, it is hard to know where to start. The story is much too mature for the spinner racks of 1987, but you couldn’t really tell that from the cover nor the interior art. It is a great read and I did literally laugh out loud several times while reading. I’m hoping my review did it justice and didn’t break up the pace of the comedic timing too much.
Overall, a tremendously fun issue. There were only three of these and they were collected by ComicMix at some point. If you happen across them and like slightly raunchy comedy mixed in with fantasy, I encourage you to pick them up. I know I will.