There are comics that I really don’t have any feeling about one way or another when I go in to them. There are other comics that I really want to like. It may be a creator whose work I like. It may be a concept that sounds interesting. Or maybe it is a bit of nostalgia. In the case of Hellcyon, it was the latter. I have a soft spot in my heart for renegade resistance fighters wielding large mecha. Chalk it up to a youth spent with episodes of Robotech and other mecha-based anime.
But therein lies the problem with Hellcyon. As a comic, it would make a good anime.
Anime has the benefit of voice actors who the audience is able to identify based on the tone of their voices, regardless if the character on screen has moving lips or not. In broader terms, the audience of Star Wars immediately knows C3-PO is speaking because of Anthony Daniels’ unique voice, even though his lips never move. In anime featuring giant robots, each robot has a distinct voice which allows the viewer to keep track of who is speaking. Comics do not have that feature.
Every character in Hellcyon is rendered with the same font. In a comic that features different looking characters or mecha, this would not be a big deal. The reader would be able to easily figure out who was speaking. However, All the mecha in Hellcyon looks the same and the characters piloting the mecha are only visible from their nose to their chin. I found myself having to read and re-read pages to figure out who was speaking or what was happening.
The story by Lucas Marangon had some gaps as well. When we first meet Nika McKay, he is in the military and on a transport to the planet Halcyon. There is a revolution in progress and they are en route to squash it. the next time we see Nika, he has joined the revolution. There is no real reason given other than he grew up on Halcyon, and there doesn’t seem to be any indication that he is even missed by his military compatriots. It seems to me that they would notice and care if one of their soldiers went AWOL.
Unfortunately, this is all just par for the course with the book. There is no character development, and scenes are strung together just so there can be battles between mecha, so there really isn’t any story development either. Hellcyon either needed to be an issue or two longer so there could be some developmental scenes added, or a few issues shorter, so all pretext of a story could be dropped and it could just be one big fight. Either way, something needed to be done.
As far as the art goes, it has its positives and its negatives. On the plus side, Marangon can draw some pretty cool looking mecha. His machines look like they belong in the world of Robotech or Gundam. They are bulky and strong, while still maintaining an uncanny agility in a fight. On the negative side, all of his characters are out of proportion. They reminded me a bit of the characters in Marvel’s Super Hero Squad show: all head, hands, and feet. I keep looking at them feeling like they needed to be stretched out some so they would be in proportion.
The only way I can recommend Hellcyon is if you had already read the first three issues, were disappointed when the fourth issue never came out, and are dying to find out what happens. There is only one page of bonus material in the book, so there really isn’t even that to look forward to.
Dark Horse has plenty of other fine offerings. Save your money to spend on something else from the publisher.