19th Jan2017

‘Hook Jaw #2′ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Si Spurrier | Art by Conor Boyle | Published by Titan Comics

HOOK_JAW_2_Cover-B

Well this was a blast from the past last month. Although Hook Jaw has something of a cult status in British comics, the strip itself has not been seen for many a year. Originally the star of Action weekly comic in the mid-1970′s, the level of violence was deemed to be too much for the time and Hook Jaw slipped away into folklore. Although Hook Jaw obviously came into being to take advantage of the Jaws craze, it managed to carve its own identity with the novel device that Hook Jaw only really attacked and ate ‘bad’ guys; that is, drug runners, people abusing the environment etc.

Obviously fun in its day, but I didn’t envy the job Si Spurrier had to bring that concept into the more cynical, more knowing now. Spurrier set this update off the coast of Somalia and, making it topical, included a cast of Somali pirates, some marine scientists studying sharks, and a team of arrogant American Navy SEALS. Although the human cast carried the bulk of last issue, Hook Jaw stole the show when it appeared, especially when seemingly directing fellow great whites in a coordinated attack on two of the American divers. It was a decent first issue, though left me a little on the fence as to whether Spurrier could run with this for 5 issues.

Hook Jaw #2 picks up with the scientists and Navy team deciding what to do next. The story gets all meta when one of the scientists tells the Navy commander that Hook Jaw is something of a myth, like Nessie, and that they even wrote comic book stories about him back in the Seventies. He wasn’t believed to be real…until now of course. Take a bow Si Spurrier for that nod and wink. The scientists obviously favour study, the Navy SEALS favour killing him, so it’s off to Captain Clay Klay’s base to decide on the next step.

The base is not a happy place, as Klay has returned without a Somali pirate to interrogate, as his boss Valerie Dow (officially U.N, unofficially C.I.A) wanted. She also is less than impressed with his ‘fish’ story. The Somali pirates get in touch, and threaten to kill their hostage, the captured scientist from last issue, unless one of their own is returned. They also tell the base to steer clear of Hook Jaw, he’s ‘theirs’ to command. The scientists are invited to remain at the base for the time being, where they see that the sharks are destroying subs that are being launched, searching for something Dow is not willing to reveal.

Dow tells one of the scientists, Reyes, that if she helps her to get a sub down there that doesn’t get destroyed by the sharks, she will pay the ransom of her colleague. They’ll all be happy. Klay, meanwhile, is still intent on killing Hook Jaw, and the end of the issue leads to something of a revelation for characters and readers alike. Turns out Hook Jaw is a ‘she’.

Another enjoyable issue, with the story pushing on nicely, with the Americans searching for something under the water, while the scientists are fascinated by Hook Jaw, and a nice vein of humour runs through everything. Some of the characters are a little cliché, but I suspect that is intentional on Spurrier’s part. It makes it all feel like a Jerry Bruckheimer film, just with less explosions so far. I also love the simplistic ‘thought’ dialogue given to Hook Jaw, instinctive but also showing intelligence.

The artwork by Conor Boyle is very readable, and he has a skill for cramming a lot of detail into small panels but not making them feel overcrowded. There is also a nice blend of several panel pages, with some full page panels, mixing things up nicely. Although technique and composition are always strong, the only minor gripe is that faces, and facial expressions, are a little on the weak side. Overall though, very good.

Let’s hope issue 3 gives us even more to get our, ahem, teeth into.

***1/2 3.5/5

Hook Jaw #2 is out now from Titan Comics

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