Review: Hound 1: Protector


Review by David Ferguson

Art by Paul Bolger
Written by Paul Bolger and Barry Devlin
Lettering by Dee Cunniffe
Book and Logo Design by Fran Walsh

Note: The images shown below are some of the prints that Paul Bolger will have on sale at Cork Comic Expo.

Reviewing this book is a bit different as I backed it as part of a Kickstarter campaign. At first I was thinking “oh another Cú Cullan book” but, when I checked the Kickstarter page, I was won over by the beauty of the art which had such fine detail and incorporated Celtic symbols to give it a real authentic flavour. I’m delighted to say that this has translated extremely well into the hardcover that I have sitting next to me (I think the art looks even better on the finished page in fact). I have a certain level of trepidation in writing this review as I attempt to find words to sum up how much I enjoy the art but I will give it my best shot. The book had its origins in a film pitch and the art style certainly has a cinematic quality. The characters are designed with exquisite detail (you can some of them on the prints below), as are certain backdrops, but Paul Bolger knows when to keep the backgrounds simple so not to distract from the action. I’m not usually a black and white fan but I think colours would detract from the line detail and the overall design in this case. This also gives the occasional use of red in certain scenes a bigger impact and used to good effect in getting certain moods across. I must also give a huge nod to Dee Cunniffe who does a brilliant job on lettering duty. His creative choices really add to the story whether it is a simple conversation or the words of the War Goddess, Morrigan.
There is a certain Game of Thrones feel to the story (Cú Cullan came first!) with evil(?) gods, warriors, kings and queens and their machinations. This volume covers Cú Cullan’s earlier life up to when he begins his training. I really like the introduction as we start off seeing the world through the eyes of Morrigan (who manipulates events to a certain degree). The goddess acts as narrator giving us the state of play for Ireland leading up to Cú Cullan’s birth. I thought that was a nice way of giving those unfamiliar with Irish history and legends a context for upcoming tale. The main character is a complicated figure as he is not a typical hero and kind of falls into the area that Marvel cornered so effectively in the 1960s of “superhero with a flaw”. Paul Bolger and Barry Devlin go into the background as to why the hero is kind of broken and show what I feel is the most compelling part about him. He is impulsive and gets real angry real fast which lands him in a lot of trouble and essentially drives the narrative. Overall, I really liked the story and, even though I know the Hound legend, I enjoyed the creative team’s take on it as I felt they added a new level of depth.
This review might have people thinking “oh another favourable review by ICN” but I can’t find fault with the book and I did put my money where my mouth is when I backed the Kickstarter. This is something I plan on doing for the upcoming volumes Defender and Liberator which will be funded through Kickstarter later this year (more on that when it happens) so I think that shows I mean what I say. This is one of the most beautifully put together I’ve seen published in Ireland or anywhere else.

Paul Bolger will be selling copies of the book, as well as t-shirts and prints, at Cork Comic Expo. You can also pick up copies on The Hound website.