• Highlander: The American Dream (Trade Paperback)

    Highlander: The American Dream (Trade Paperback)
    Released by: IDW Publishing
    Released on: November 8th, 2017.
    Written by: Brian Ruckley
    Illustrated by: Andrea Mutti
    Purchase From Amazon

    The first issue of this new Highlander comic series from IDW Publishing starts on the streets of Manhattan in 1985. Osta Vazilek, one of the remaining immortals, visits the antique shop run by Rachel Ellenstein. He’s looking for Connor MacLeod, but he’s not there. Vazilek leaves a message with her for him – “I will be on the bridge.”

    A short time later, Connor meets Vazilek on the Brooklyn Bridge. Both men have arrived unarmed, and so they talk about how many of them are left – possibly six – and how the last days are encroaching on them. Neither of the immortals is aware that they’re being tailed.

    We flash back to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in 1863, a few short days after the infamous battle. A wounded MacLeod stumbles through the woods. He comes to a monetary where Vazilek lets him in. The man who was chasing him, another immortal, forces his way in and both he and MacLeod draw their swords. Vazilek puts a stop to the fight – mortal combat such as this is not permitted on holy ground. The man leaves, outnumbered, but promises to catch up with them soon. Vazilek helps MacLeod rest and tells him that the man who was after him was John Hooke and that he is a blight upon the land. After Vazilek lectures MacLeod, he tells him of how he made his way from Estonia in 1190, discovering his immortality, his involvement in the Crusades and how he eventually came to be a monk.

    Of course, outside Hooke is up to no good…

    Picking up where the first issue left off, we once again voyage back to Pennsylvania ten days after the Battle Of Gettysburg laid waste to scores of Civil War soldiers on both sides of the war. Here John Hooke starts killing people in an attempt to get Connor MacLeod and Osta Vazilek out of the monastery where they’ve been hiding. They head out, swords drawn, and Osta tells Connor he will not kill a mere mortal. This means Hooke’s men are safe from his blade, though Hookoe himself is fair game. Outside Hooke’s Confederate troops continue to wreak havoc, their leader unconcerned about local militias sneaking up on them.

    Osta heads out first, and the men open fire on him. This causes enough of a distraction to allow Connor to sneak up on the others. As Hooke attacks Osta, the rest of the men concentrate on Connor. The skirmishes get bloody and just as it appears that Hooke is going to get the upper hand on the monk, a bullet crashes through his head. Of course, it doesn’t kill him but it hurts him enough to put a stop to the fight and Connor is able to save his friend from certain death at the end of Hooke’s sword. Osta, however, chastises Connor for breaking the rules and not doing enough to help the local human population.

    Cut back to where this all began – modern day Manhattan. Or at least as modern as it was in 1985. Here Connor and Osta catch up, discuss the upcoming ‘gathering’ unaware that a white haired man with glasses watches them. Connor makes it clear that he’d love nothing more than a chance to go after Kurgan, immortal who killed Ramirez, the man who trained him.

    Cut to 1955 – a pretty blonde named Rachel flirts with some young men as she walks past. Her boss, Connor, sends her on her way and then has a talk with Osta about why he’s interacting with this young woman in the first place. Later that night they meet at a wrestling match to continue their talk, and then Osta tells him the real reason he’s come looking for him – John Hooke is in town…

    In the suburbs of New York City, in 1955, Special Agent Edward Highsmith shows up to investigate a crime scene. The home’s two owners were killed, as was their dog but not before the dog alerted the neighbors who called the police. Each victim at the crime scene was missing one eye each. They find only one clue, a business card for Drake’s Books that they presume to have fallen out of the killer’s pocket.

    Elsewhere, in Manhattan, MacLeod and Vazilek talk about Hooke’s penchant for removing his victims’ eyes. They need to stop him, but first, MacLeod wants a drink. Here Vazilek lets on that some members of the church he serves know ‘glimpses of the truth’ in regards to what he really is. After all, he’s been a monk for centuries and he carries a sword. MacLeod responds in kind, let’s on that Rachel knows there’s some sort of ‘magic’ in him and he leaves it at that.

    Highsmith, accompanied by Detective Connolly, arrive at the book store at question Rachel about this ‘Mr. Drake.’ She says nothing of interest and then MacLeod, posing as Rupert Wallingford, the landlord, arrives. He tells them Drake died of a heart attack two months ago. The cops know something is up but they’re not sure what. On the way out, however, Highsmith says to Vazilek that he recognizes him. Vazilek, of course, insists that this isn’t possible. The cops leave and Vazilek posits that Hooke may have left the business card at the crime scene to send MacLeod a message – after all, he lives above the store. It would stand to reason now that Hooke knows where MacLeod lives. Understandably, Connor feels Rachel is no in danger and he intends to do something about it.

    Manhattan, 1955. Osta Vazilek is running through the streets only to get smacked by a car. The motorists get out, concerned that they’ve hit someone, let alone a priest, but Vazilek is okay, even when he shouldn’t be. He gets up and continues his run, trying to find MacLeod who is currently involved in a dual atop the Brooklyn Bridge with John Hooke. As they duel, they talk – about before, whether or not what they were before even matters any more. MacLeod, who introduces himself as ‘from the Clan MacLeod’ clearly believes it does – Hooke? Not so much.

    The fight gets bloody and just as it looks like Hooke is done for, he jumps off the bride into the East River. Osta arrives just in time to see MacLeod jump in after him. Osta returns to MacLeod’s apartment to wait for him. Rachel makes him tea and they talk. Soon enough, a very wet Connor shows up. He lost Hooke, couldn’t see well enough in the river to catch him. Connor can’t help but notice the bruise on Rachel’s face, the one that Agent Highsmith gave her and while he wants revenge for this, she talks him off the ledge. When she tells the two men that Highsmith is looking for Hooke and a monk that seems to have an uncanny knack for showing up at crime scenes, Osta figures it’s time for him to head back to where he came from for a while.

    Manhattan, 1985. Connor and Osta talk about the Gathering, how they know it is near, and how there is unfinished business with Hooke. They know where he is, not too far away at an abandoned railway terminal in New Jersey. They agree to meet there at midnight. Hooke cannot win the Gathering, they need to take him out first. Both men are unaware that an aged Highsmith has been watching them, listening to their conversation. He no longer works for the F.B.I. but has a secret benefactor financing his investigation as understaffed as it may be.

    Connor is going out, he tells his lady friend Rachel that there’s something he needs to do and that Vazilek might die if he tries it alone. He heads out into the street, that pesky snooping former cop Highsmith following him, while Rachel gets a visit in the home shortly after.

    MacLeod arrives at a rundown old warehouse. Hooke is there, but he won’t show himself, at least not immediately. Eventually they find each other near the riverside, swords drawn. They intend to fight to the death, and Connor draws first blood. Elsewhere, Vazilek is on his motorcycle heading to the scene when he’s assaulted by a gaunt, longhaired, sword wielding Kurgan. He was clearly looking for another of the Immortals but will take what he can get. They fight, while on the other side of the river the monk sees the lightning strike, letting him know that the dual between MacLeod and Hooke has come to a finish.

    But there is still that unresolved matter of Highsmith, and of course, the Kurgan and Osta’s fight…

    This fifth and final issue of the American Dream mini-series ends a chapter in the Highlander’s story while still leaving things open for a follow up. It’s an entertaining read that provides us with a sense of closure. There isn’t a ton of character development in the run, but given that these characters were well established before this series started, that doesn’t matter as much as the way that Brian Ruckley’s story furthers the mythos and delivers the action. It’s done well, and it’s an entertaining book, which is always the most important aspect of a comic book. Andrea Mutti’s artwork is solid, portraying nice action scenes, good background detail and realistic looking facial expressions. All in all, this is a pretty satisfying finish to what was, from the first issue, a pretty fun read.

    In addition to collecting the five issues that made up the mini-series in its entirety, this trade paperback edition also includes an art gallery section in the back that compiles some promotional images and a few variant covers that were made for the run.