As noted, I took a break from my current reads to sit down one evening with a Robert E. Howard tale. I went for his historical fiction this time around, with a selection from Del Rey's Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures.
I was going to read "Blades for France" but then remembered I had bought the graphic novel of Boom Studios adaptation of "Hawks of Outremer." So, I thought it was a perfect time to read and compare both.
"Hawks of Outremer" is a tight tale. The main character is Cormac FitzGeoffrey, a bastard Norman-Gael who has thrown his lot in with the Crusaders. Once a loose peace was established in Outremer, Cormac returned to Ireland but after a short stint fighting, peace broke out there, too. Cormac returns to the Holy Land (Outremer) seeking to attach himself to a liege, only to learn that his liege of choice has been assassinated. Plots are afoot between Muslims and Christian lords who want nothing to do with Saladin nor European kings. Rather than jeopardize the peace with an armed force, FitzGeoffrey vows vengeance and embarks solo to deal death to those who deserve it.
"Hawks of Outremer" appeared in Oriental Stories in 1931. The fantasy character Conan soon followed in 1932. Cormac FitzGeoffrey does feel like Conan is bubbling under the surface. Cormac is described as having blue eyes and a square-cropped mane of dark hair. He might be slightly larger, physically, than Conan, but he moves with the same pantherish grace. Even his armor barely makes a sound as he pads secretly through medieval fortresses.
Now, onto the graphic novel. Boom Studios were entirely faithful to the original tale. There is hardly a difference, other than a few extra dead bodies and very, very slight dialog rearrangement. The characters all resemble the descriptions provided by Howard. All the dialog is word-for-word from the original, too.
The artwork is vivid and bloody. This is truly a REH tale brought to colorful comic life. The graphic novel also contains an insightful afterword by Mark Finn.
Highly recommended for Robert E. Howard fans!