04th May2017

‘Hook Jaw #5’ Review

by Dean Fuller

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


Hook Jaw has had plenty of bite so far, a lot to sink our teeth into and a story easy to dive into. Also ideal for bad puns apparently. Joking aside, Si Spurrier has managed to put a fresh spin and update on a property that even when it was conceived in the 1970’s on the back of Jaws was a little derivative and part of a fad. What I have enjoyed is marrying the updated parts with enough of the original core concept to create something that though familiar, is most definitely its own animal. Or fish. I’ll stop now.

When all the mad jumble of Somali pirates, marine scientists, CIA agents, Navy SEALS, and Great Whites are pushed aside, what this has all been leading to is a quest. The quest is for the shipping container that we now know contains some major American scientific tech, and that some of the Somali pirates have, the CIA want, and the marine scientists want no part of. The race is on, and all that stands in the way is a few sharks. Intelligent great whites that is. No pressure.

To avoid any further bloodshed, one of the scientists offers to take the pirates to where she thinks the containers have been taken by the other Somali pirates, a disused oil rig. Everyone goes, including the tied up CIA/SEALS. When the boat arrives, the pirates send  some of the hostages down, not wanting to test those waters themselves for some reason. They find the boat they are looking for at the bottom, a huge bite mark showing the reason it sank. Then the sharks attack. As they desperately try and hook up the container the sharks attack. Not randomly, but showing intelligence and planning, and also team work. One of the scientists theorises that the metal spike in Hook Jaw’s face interferes with her normal electro receptors, explaining the ‘different’ behaviour.

Klay gets bit, and in his deliciously 1980’s action movie fashion reveals his plan. He has smuggled a stick of explosive, which he plans to hide on a dead body, feed it to Hook Jaw and detonate at just the right time. Great plan, right? Only not everyone thinks the sharks are the villains here. The real villains are the bickering Somali pirates, only interested in the money they can get for the equipment, and the Americans only interested in blindly solving huge environmental problems by attacking the symptom, not the cause. What’s a conscientious marine scientist to do? why, stick the bomb in the container and blow the ship up of course.

A beast must die, but the real beast is not in the sea it seems. The ending is extremely apt and will make you chuckle. It involves a single water-cycle left that can accommodate one person, several survivors in the water who all want to live, and a sea full of sharks. It doesn’t end well for most. A fitting ending, and one in which Spurrier delivers both a nice resolution to the series and a chance to make some choice environmental points without being too heavy handed.

Are the real monsters the sharks in the sea who do what they do to survive? or people, with their petty selfish machinations, be they on  a large or small scale. The Somali pirates were happy to butcher whoever they had to for some money. The Americans happy to potentially destroy the environment to try and ‘quick fix’ the problem of global warming. Si Spurrier and Conor Boyle have been a consistently fine team on this book. Spurrier has delivered a fine blend of humour, drama, and action throughout, and retained the environmental aspects of the original strip. Boyle’s art really comes into its own with underwater and shark scenes, which are laid out nicely. This issue he also had a chance to flex a few artistic muscles, with quite a few larger panels. Very nice to look at, and fine work over the entire series.

Genuinely surprised by this book. Deserves to be something of a cult book for years to come. Ultimately, Hook Jaw was never the monster in this book. We were.

**** 4/5


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