Head Wounds: Sparrow by Brian Buccellato & Christian Ward

Despite the many names on this cover, including a Created By Robert Johnson and Story By Robert Johnson & John Alvey (and a smaller development credit for Jason Spire right at the bottom,) the number one reason most people, myself included, will pick up this comic is the name Oscar Isaac, emblazoned top and bottom over a stylized portrait of someone who looks a lot like the actor himself, in a beat-up Poe Dameron sort of way.

Ofc, if you’re a comics nerd like me, there’s a strong chance you’ll see Christian Ward’s name on the art and think “rad!” Frankly, the art is one of the strongest aspects of the actual book. Mr Ward’s pencils and inks are loose on the figurative, non-background aspects (and get looser as the book progresses) but dang, his colors and light effects are tremendous. And in fairness, there’s a lot going on, with a lot of people running around. Kudos to him and Brian Buccellato for storyboarding that makes it clear who exactly is in the spotlight in any given panel, even when the art gets a bit, well, sketchy is likely the best word. Like, if you pulled individual panels out and asked me to identify characters, I’d be pretty stumped, but contextually, I was never confused as to who’s who, which is a lot more than I can say for a lot of books out there today. Did I mention that the cast here is huge? It feels very action-movie cinematic in scope.

It’s also very Catholic, with imagery of angels and redemption and damnation, that almost but doesn’t quite go all the way round to approaching the weirdly Protestant atheism of Garth Ennis (particularly in re Preacher.) I mean, it’s set in New Orleans, and in addition to corrupt cops, there are cults and purgatorial battles while angels and demons hover around pronouncing over the lead character’s soul. I was actually kinda hoping that the weird phenomena assailing said lead was due to (insert meme) Aliens, but a quasi-religious battle for the guy’s soul also makes sense, even tho this is, at this point in time, very well-covered territory.

Anyhoo, our lead who looks like Oscar Isaac is the super white Leo “Gator” Guidry, a crooked cop who’s banging the wife of his best friend, also a cop, in a wholly degrading, unromantic way. When he starts getting visions afflicting him with the wounds of the people he’s supposed to be protecting but is instead failing by being both corrupt and a deadbeat, he’s reluctantly spurred to get his act together and do right. His first mission is to save the (inevitably blonde, blue-eyed) teenage runaway who got swept up by a raid on a trap house. She’s since gone missing, and rescuing her will only be the first step in correcting the hold the forces of evil have over New Orleans.

So the story is fine, even if it does feel a little like Oscar Isaac got mad that he lost the role of Preacher to Dominic Cooper so went on a tear to his friends about it and how he would improve on the story (this is purely speculation on my part, ofc.) There’s a solid kernel of entertainment in there, but I put this down mostly to Mr Buccalleto and Mr Ward really understanding pacing and presentation. I mean, between them they have decades of excellent craftsmanship under their belts, and it shows. The book itself is fine to above average. But let’s face it, it’s Oscar Isaac that most of you are really here for, and that’s fine, too. I totally envisioned him in the role of Gator, and while there were moments that were jarring (see: white,) overall, it was — say it with me — fine.

Head Wounds: Sparrow by Brian Buccellato & Christian Ward was published yesterday October 18 2022 by Legendary Comics and is available from all good booksellers, including

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