Science fiction and fantasy                                            

Jeff Hawke: Overlord

by Sydney Jordan and Willie Patterson


Jeff Hawke was originally published in the Daily Express between 1954 and 1975, and the four stories in Jeff Hawke: Overlord appeared in 1960 and 1961. The artwork is very reminiscent of the Dan Dare era. Jeff Hawke is a square-jawed hero who finds himself embroiled in a series of adventures involving aliens and space travel, and with technologies so advanced that puny humans can't hope to comprehend them.

Sydney Jordan's black and white artwork is dated yet striking, filled as it is with odd-looking extraterrestrials. It was clearly an influence on later British comics such as 2000AD. Each story is introduced by a couple of aliens, one of whom even bears a passing resemblance to that publication's Tharg the Mighty. There's an interesting visual contrast between the staid, buttoned-up Earthlings and the aliens in all of their myriad forms.

The Overlord of the title is Chalcedon, a scheming character whose plots and manipulations tie the stories together. Gentle humour, delivered with a subtle and lighthearted tone, runs through these tales. Aliens who believe themselves to be vastly superior to mankind are shown to be vain, corrupt, selfish, and often wrong. Hawke may look the part of an action hero, but he prefers to talk his way out of trouble. It's as though he takes the words of Isaac Asimov, "violence is the last refuge of the incompetent", as his motto.

The four stories that make up this collection are enjoyable to read, although their pace is slow to begin with. It's not until the final story, "Counsel For The Defence", that events come to a head and the plot gains a more satisfying complexity and pace.

In his introduction, Sydney Jordan writes about his history, and how the Second World War influenced him. This explains a lot about Jeff Hawke's character, and the reason why he is such a good negotiator rather than a more belligerent character. However, the introduction does make this graphic novel seem more highbrow than it actually is. This is a collection of accessible stories from a slightly more innocent era, abounding with freaky aliens who are often at war with each other. It will please readers who have a taste for nostalgia and somewhat lightweight space adventure.

Book Details

Year: 2008

Categories: Books

  YA     Science fiction
  Male Protagonist  

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3 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson