“Ha-Ha, I Made You Say Cock!” and Other Things That Try to Be Funny in Allen, Son of Hellcock

In an interview with CBR.com, writer Gabe Kopolwitz said that he drew a lot of inspiration for Allen, Son of Hellcock from years of reading “a lot of old Heavy Metal.”

Yeeahhh. That’s possibly one of the reasons this comic book utterly fails the Bechdel Test . . . among other things.

Cover art of Allen, Son of Hellcock, Z2 Comics

Z2 Comics

The story of Allen, Son of Hellcock follows a hapless do-nothing who has been paralyzed by his famous father’s reputation. His father’s ghost follows him around, alternately berating Allen and trying to get him to do something meaningful, like a hero’s quest, with his life. Allen, meanwhile, just wants to write graphic novels—whoa, just like the authors and illustrator! How edgy and fourth wall breaking! (There is, in fact, a lot of fourth wall breaking, but more of that in a moment.)

Eventually, Allen’s opportunity to be a hero arises when another son-of-a-great-man, Kaarl, attacks the town. Kaarl’s dad is none other than Hellcock’s sworn enemy, Lord Krong. Mostly to impress the only female character with a speaking role, Madeleine, Allen gathers together what remains of his father’s old companions to take on this new, mostly impotent, and apparently bed-wetting—because that’s hilarious—evildoer. The quest begins!

Single panel of Interior art, Z2 comics

Kaarl, who looks suspiciously like our own hero, declaring his life goal. Z2 Comics

What’s frustrating to me about Allen, Son of Hellcock is that this genre has already been perfectly parodied with whole helluva a lot more heart, fresher humor, and actual emotional stakes in Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. I kept waiting for writers Koplowitz (VICELAND) and Will Tracy (Last Week Tonight, the Onion) to do something unexpected with Allen’s character; at the very least, I hoped that Allen might come into his own and stop being the butt of every joke. Alas, no. The champions save the day in some unexpected and humorous ways, but Allen’s role in it all is as a bad copy of his father. He never really becomes his own person, except that somehow, miraculously and very inexplicably, he ends up “with the girl.”

Other than going through the quest together with all the washed-up champions, one of whom has been turned into a turtle, Madeleine and Allen have no heart-to-heart or even a moment when we get to know anything at all about Madeleine’s past or an opportunity to see her fight, which we get a sense she could do from her introduction. Likewise, as a reader, I never fall for Allen. There’s no attempt to make him anything more than a fairly useless goofball. He has one thought: to gather the team and storm the fortress. He spends the rest of the adventure reminding people that the quest was his idea—again, mostly because he thinks this will impress Madeleine.

It seems to work for her, but it doesn’t do much for me.

Two panel interior shot from Allen, Son of Hellcock, Z2 Comics.

Their relationship in a nutshell. Z2 Comics

The only innovative part of Allen, Son of Hellcock is one of the more egregious instances of of fourth wall breaking, in which the characters walk off the edge of the comic into blank space, where they find a light pull that switches them into different universes . . . including the studio of the graphic-novel team. Similarly, there’s a clever running gag of two characters who live under the comic book panels and occasionally curl up the “page” to poke their heads in and make snarky commentary.

Interior art, Z2 Comics

Adventuring outside of the box. (Get it?) Z2 Comics

All that being said, the good news is that Allen, Son of Hellcock definitely reminds me of some of the old ’70s and ’80s Heavy Metal comics. The problem is that it’s 2017, and I’d argue that comic-book readers are often looking for more than humor on the level of “Ha-ha, I made you say ‘hell’ and ‘cock.'” Migel Porto’s and Kendra Wells’s art is fine, but again, if you like the kind of rough-around-the-edges look but want a far better epic-hero parody, I would recommend Nimona.

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