Home Graphic novel Oscar Isaac’s Graphic Novel Head Injuries: Sparrow Review

Oscar Isaac’s Graphic Novel Head Injuries: Sparrow Review

0
Image for article titled Oscar Isaac's head wounds give a biblical shock to a broken system

Image: Legendary Comics

When we first meet Leo Guidrythe main character of Head injuries: Sparrowa new graphic novel developed by Oscar Isaac, written by Brian Buccellato, illustrated by Christian Ward and created by Robert Johnson and John Alvey, it’s hardly a hero. He’s a rogue New Orleans cop who seems more interested in getting drunk and having sex with his married girlfriend than helping people. This changes when he is shot in the head.

Image for article titled Oscar Isaac's head wounds give a biblical shock to a broken system

Except he’s not shot. Another cop has been shot, and he’s just been cursed to bear the wounds of those injured under his watch. As Leo comes to terms with the fact that he’s bleeding from a head wound that only he can see, mystical forces — both angelic, demonic, and all those lost souls in between — are gathering in New Orleans. .

The book treads on well-worn ground; a bad cop with a chip on his shoulder, and a dead wife and child, who are forced to face the consequences of his actions. Although a relatively common formula, the deep and rich world-building tied to this world’s lore, alongside the absolutely stellar art of Christian Ward (who is well known for his bright graphic designs and poppy and its bold use of vibrant colors) elevates Head injuries: Sparrow from what might have been standard fare to a dizzying, harrowing, and wonderfully esoteric graphic novel worth picking up.

As Leo struggles with his first instinct, which is to simply not get involved, he must come to terms with the fact that he’s let down the people he should have wanted to protect. It’s not that he tried and failed, it’s that he didn’t really try at all. It takes divine intervention before he wakes up and begins to realize the kind of pain he caused…literally. Next, the perfect punch of physical damage and psychic trauma; only he can have his wounds inflicted by proxy. He constantly feels their pain, but there is no cure for his wounds because, in an ironic moment of divine retribution, they do not exist.

I always appreciate a comic that can be violent and gruesome without necessarily relying on constant graphic representations of gore to get the point across. A good example is when Leo first tries to stitch up his bleeding head wound, and a few panels of the needle go in and out of his skin before the bullet hole reopens with a pop. The rest of the time the wound is covered with a bloody bandage, but we are haunted by the three sections of this wound stitched together. We know what is.

This is the biblical reckoning of Leo. Between two attempts to solve a murder, he also has his hands full trying to find a pair of abduction victims, finds himself caught in a war between souls trapped in the bardo of endless half-life on Earth. and is chained in a cult that tries to sacrifice people to win elections. The way the book combines occultism and the real consequences of human behavior is one of its strengths, making it a story that demands Leo recognize not only the harm he does, but the inherent humanity of those whom society prefers to ignore or pass off as undesirable.

The artwork does a lot to convey the state of Leo’s headspace, alternating between aquamarine and citrine backgrounds, creating a frame that isn’t so much grainy as it is graphic. And that’s the point – this book has to make you feel frantic, overwhelmed, like the world is too bright, like it’s a migraine in disguise, or else we’re just watching another bad detective get his reward… and his redemption .

The thing that I really appreciate Head injuries: Sparrow is that Leo is being dragged, kicking and screaming, towards redemption. WhereasI do ultimately get justice he can’t help everyone he was supposed to help. He ends up finding a way to survive, but it’s at the cost of who he is, who he has been for years. His redemption comes from a force greater than himself, an angelic force, the literal fear of God put into him by the apocryphal archangel Uriel. Don’t be afraid, Leo Guidry, but remember to do the work… if not.

Image for article titled Oscar Isaac's head wounds give a biblical shock to a broken system

Head injuries: Sparrow is available now. The graphic novel was developed by Oscar Isaac through his production company, Mad Gene Media and published by Legendary Comics. It was written by Brian Buccellato, illustrated by Christian Ward, and created by Robert Johnson and John Alvey.


Want more io9 news? Find out when to wait for the last wonder and star wars versions, what’s next for the DC Universe in Film and TVand everything you need to know about Dragon House and The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.