Jeff Hawke: Overlord
Jeff Hawke’s not your average space-hero; focused on reasoning, diplomacy and moral virtues instead of brute force, he is frequently forced to be the ambassador — rather than the saviour — of mankind! His universe is populated with alien species that meet humankind by accident or for commerce, but hardly ever for invasion.
Patterson’s subtle wit makes the strip’s plots and characters as fascinating as they are amusing, and Jordan’s highly expressive style fully captures the strangeness of the weird and wonderful aliens of Jeff’s universe!
And now for something completely different. And I do mean completely different, in the best way possible. Jeff Hawke is the most unique historical perspective on a star-reaching future that I’ve come across.
Titan published two collected editions in 2008. Oddly these don’t start from the strips’ beginning in 1954, but Overlord begins with the February 10 1960 Overlord story and continues to August 2 1961. This was when Willie Patterson took over the writing duties from Sydney Patterson, so perhaps that’s why this choice was made.
Jeff Hawke is the proverbial straight man, the focus of the strip but really the boring set up to the main entertainment: the aliens. They are weird, off the wall and far from what you’d expect. These strips were written 57 years ago but feel fresh and unique. All too often we read classic stories and see how they’ve been harvested over and over for later material; that just doesn’t happen here. Yes, you may see some of it coming down the road, but when it reaches you it’s still fun and exciting. Willie Patterson knows how to craft a tale.
Sydney Jordan’s art is superb. Well crafted figures, luscious environments and the oh so wonderful aliens. He played with the black and white medium, pulling everything out of what could be done. Good expressions, excellent shadows, and playful creations. As well he provides introductions to the stories, in that endearing Titan manner you may have encountered with their Modesty Blaise series.
Reproduction is the best I’ve seen from Titan and British newspaper strip reprints. No indication of digital recreation or where the material came from, but it’s a high quality. The occasional strip is muddy, but they’re few and far between.
We get an introspective introduction from creator Sydney Jordan, and the book closes with a complete list of Jeff Hawke storylines with creator and publication information. It’s an excellent package overall.
Sadly I’m late to the party with this book and its follow up, as Titan didn’t continue the Jeff Hawke series past the second volume. These two books can be found at book closeout stores and online; I picked mine up for a song.
Originally published at Comic Book Daily.