What happens when the bad guy conquers the kingdom, but he ends being a decent ruler, everyone is happy, and there are no rebellions in sight. Allen, Son of Hellcock #1 by writers Will Tracy (Last Week Tonight with John Oliver) and Gabe Koplowitz and artist Miguel Porto is what happens. The comic opens up as kind of mash-up of the recent Tim Truman Conan comics and the classic Sergio Aragones Groo the Wanderer fantasy parody series with a relatively straightforward sword and sorcery narrative about the barbarian warrior Hellcock and his quirky supporting cast. But this is just another one of those Fellowship of the Ring prologues, and the comic is actually about Allen, whose name people can’t get right for some reason, and his attempts to live a relatively normal life as a cartoonist in a universe of orc frequented bars, rude minotaur landlords, wizard shrinks, and boorish, ghostly fathers, who give terrible dating advice.
Allen, Son of Hellcock #1 is worldbuilding at its funniest, and Miguel Porto builds the world of Champia with elements of our own world, including traffic, psychologists, hipsters, drawing tables, and mini golf along with more traditional sword and sorcery things, like orcs, taverns, and wizards. Porto’s style is cartoonish and yet detailed so he can deliver on the more over-the-top visual jokes, like a quick cut from Allen telling a girl named Madeleine he is painfully failing to flirt with that he’s not an orc to a mean, green orc, and still have hilarious background gags that reward a re-read. Tracy, Koplowitz, and Porto also shift out of the “realistic” and fantasy parts without a moment’s notice, which is best exemplified by the opening scene where the story goes from the mock epic epic story of Hellcock to a workplace comedy.
Some of the best scenes of Allen, Son of Hellcock #1 involve Allen interacting with the ghost of Hellcock in basically what is a giant parody of “dead father gives advice scenes” in a variety of works of fiction, including Hamlet, Marlon Brando’s expensive cameo in Superman, and Russell Crowe’s less expensive cameo in Man of Steel. But instead of grooming Allen to be some kind of hero or avenger, Hellcock tries to help him pick up women at bars. Hellcock’s gross attempts at pickup lines combined with his paunch meets loincloth aesthetic is a nice jab at the creepiness of pickup artists either online or offline filtered through the speech patterns of Conan of Cimmeria. And Allen can’t flat out talk to women in general adding to his troubles, including laziness, lack of an audience for his graphic novel, which is being written centuries before the format was invented, and general money problems. It’ll to be interesting see him go from absolute zero to hero, especially with the final few pages’ introduction of the comic’s villain, who has daddy issues of his own.
With its bone dry sense of humor, hilarious parodies of sword and sorcery tales, colorful art, and a likeable loser protagonist, Allen, Son of Hellcock #1 stands out from the legions of fantasy comics hitting shelves. Writers Will Tracy and Gabe Koplowitz and artist Miguel Porto also start to show how one writes a fantasy story in a world where all the epic battles have been fought, heroes slain, and villains have won. It is filled with laughs, anachronisms, and a character, who will hit close to home for many readers. (Because barely getting paid for your writing sucks.)