Highlander #1: The Coldest War
by Brandon Jerwa, Michael Avon Oeming, Lee Moder (Dynamite, 2007)

Nothing the Highlander concept has ever produced has topped the original movie from 1986. And no villain has ever bested the Kurgan for sheer villainy.

So I cannot fault writers Brandon Jerwa and Michael Avon Oeming for starting the new Highlander comic-book series in the immediate aftermath of that film, with a large portion of the story told through flashbacks involving, yes, the Kurgan. Still, The Coldest War -- the first volume in the collected Highlander series -- is more failure than success.

A lot of the blame falls on artists Lee Moder, who illustrated the main story, and Kevin Sharpe, who illustrated the back-up feature. Neither seems to have any clue what Connor MacLeod and the Kurgan look like, much less MacLeod's cousin Duncan and his wives, Brenda and Heather. Visually, The Coldest War is not very impressive.

But the story, too, is a mixed blessing. The writers capture the feel of the movie, with smooth transitions between the present (1986) and the past (1964), but somehow the essence of the Kurgan was lost along the way. As defined in the film, the Kurgan is all about brute force and mayhem, a solitary barbarian with only his own interests at heart. As written here, however, he's a uniformed goon for Mother Russia at the height of the Cold War, a man who employs advanced genetics to create his own army of adoring acolytes. Sorry, but it doesn't ring true.

The strengths of this book are enough that I'll be back to check out the next volume. I hope it's better than this one.

review by
Tom Knapp

12 January 2008

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