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Jeff Hawke: Overlord

By Philip Schweier
March 29, 2008 - 15:16


Jeff Hawke: Overlord is a collection of four newspaper strip adventures originally published in the UK newspaper Daily Express in1960 and 1961. It takes place in the (then) near future, where Jeff Hawke is a representative of Great Britain's government, perhaps with military attachments of some sort. The stories generally involve a variety of initial contact with alien beings, some benign, others threatening.

Jordan displays a subtle wit as he blends old earth legends with science fiction, and instills offbeat sensibilities to timeless science fiction scenarios. Hawke himself is a blend of Flash Gordon, Steve Canyon and a host of other comic strip heroes, but his role is more of an ambassador rather than liberator. Imagine Earth being invaded by a million extraterrestrials, all a centimeter in height. How would you react if called upon to act as counsel for the defense for your interstellar enemy, and expected to share the same fate should you lose? Marooned on a barren planet, Hawke must wrestle with difficult choices to preserve the lives of his crew.

The artwork of Willie Patterson, a childhood friend of Jordan’s, is exemplary. The newspaper comic strip is a notoriously confining format. Space, print quality, color and canvas all combine to create an illustrator's claustrophobic nightmare. But Patterson renders a stunning array of texture, depth and scale that any artist today should envy, and he accomplishes this with no color whatsoever. It's an achievement to be envied. If I have a single complaint, it is that so many of his designs for alien creatures stem from insects. Definitely a book worth seeking out if your a fan of the newspaper strip art form. And it's a fun read, to boot.

Last Updated: January 24, 2022 - 11:00

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