“Now is the time of The Gathering, when the stroke of a sword and the fall of a head will release the power of The Quickening.”
If you are of a certain age you will love the film Highlander. If like me you are open minded, you may even like the TV show. If you fall into either clan, you are the target audience for this new book from IDW, which cuts the wheat from the chaff, the head from the shoulders as it goes back to the start.
For those not in the know, Connor Macleod is a clansman from the Highlands of Scotland, born 400 odd years ago and he is Immortal. When the time is right, he will be drawn into The Gathering where other Immortals will fight to death. This is achieved by cutting of their opponent’s head with the victor receiving their power in a dazzling (at least by the standards of mid 80’s special effects), light show. From there, there was multiple sequels, the TV show a dodgy anime series – practically anything that could be used to degrade a franchise was put out there. Anyone remembers the crisps?
Written by Brian Ruckley, the comic takes us back to the original film. There are enough Easter eggs in the pages that would pique interest of someone new to the story of Macleod; for the fan, I am not sure if this is a gentle nod to the films, an homage of sorts or just a means to tie the raggedy ends together. With such a long and disparate media history there is no need to worry about the actual continuity of events as its more complicated than a Marvel Comics tie-in event! Part of the charm of Christopher Lambert’s performance in the movie is his unique accent which gave the feeling of a weary wanderer. Here, on the page there is no such accent, which pretty much reduces the impact of the character. Coupled with some plain awful dialogue, for example “Tell him I will be on the bridge. He will know what it means.”, serves as no real code as they meet as you would expect on a bridge. You almost wonder what sort of other sagely comments are abound. “Mind that sword, its pretty sharp?”
The art by Andrea Mutti holds up pretty will to be honest as he goes for familiar looks and styles over actual likeness. The only reason you can tell its Connor is because of the iconic mac he wears. Without it, he is just another character. The film also used the idea of running through Connor’s past exploits. With 400 years to play with, they can be quite varied. In fact, the “past” element of the story is clearly the stronger part of the book being as it covers one of the biggest rules of The Game. Panel structure is done well enough to move the story along, although I would have liked to see more action, more sword play which was one of the best aspects of the film.
Back in the day, I loved the TV show. To me Duncan Macleod works better than Connor. With a TV show you get to immerse yourself in the characters rich history, being as you have 22 episodes to cover rather than just 90 minutes. With this comic book, it seems that there is still life in the old Immortal. But in this particular case “There can be only one”, may turn out to be just one step too many.
Writing – 2.5 Stars
Art – 3 Stars
Colors – 3 Stars
Brian Ruckley (w) • Andrea Mutti (a) • Francesco Francavilla (c)