It’s been a while since I wrote about Jon Macy’s Fearful Hunter, and I’m very glad to be able to finally review the fourth, largest (80 pages!) and last issue of this powerful and moving story1.
To recap: Oisin is a young druid in training, Byron is a young werewolf. They’ve fallen in love, but Oisin’s duties threaten to keep them apart. Actually, it’s a bit more complicated–and more interesting–than that. Jon Macy has not created a mere romance in fantasy settings, his story packs more punch than that (but then, so does his art).
As we’ve seen in the previous issues, Tavius, Oisin’s mentor and master, who’d really like to get into Byron’s tight-fitting pants, sits only on a lower rung of the high ladder of the Druids’ pecking order. The Inner Circle is lead by his own master, Eanruig, whose thirst for power has overcome his consideration for the natural role of druids.
This fourth issue follows two main strands: Oisin in the hands of the Inner Circle, with his final initiation supposed to lead to his taking an active, though unwilling role in Eanruig’s plan, and Byron with his friend the werefox, as they work their way toward the druids’ sacred grove to save Oisin from the selfish attention of his masters.
The opposition between the Inner Circle’s disregard for others on one hand and Byron and his friends’ collective support one the other hand seems to me to be at the heart of the story, with Jon Macy managing to ground his humanistic ideas in incredible visuals of nature gone weird in the hands of too powerful human beings.
It’s not easy to write a story focusing on natural balance without sounding reactionary, but this is a good example of what can be done: while the roles of allies (as are called the natural forces) and humans are clearly defined, those roles don’t preclude free will and personal choices, as Eanruig proves with his goal of ultimate power, and as Oisin hopes to prove, with his own yearning for Byron.
While Byron’s youth and relationship with his clan has been explored in previous issues, Oisin’s youth had remained a mystery. The parallel drawn in this issue between his parents’ rejection of their son’s natural abilities and the real-life homophobia of some families might not be an original idea (Hello, various versions of the X-Men), but its poignancy remains intact. Oisin had to overcome the loss of his blood family and the fact that the Druids, his adopted family, try to use him for their own ends compounds that tragedy.
It’s not all soul-searching with this comic, far from it. Jon Macy’s art, which I’ve admired for a long time, reaches new heights with psychedelic sequences of the druids in action. Reality becomes fluid and the reader feels like he’s looking at LP cover art from the 70s (well, the good ones).
As I’ve remarked in the previous issues, one of the characteristics of Macy’s style is its ability to go from detailed focus figures to sketchy, wide-screen panels, something that’s unfortunately not often seen in comics. Here too, the reader is given both lovely, elaborate faces and powerfully evocative nature, whether real or imagined.
Most of modern fiction pushes the ideal of happily coupled people, and gay fiction is not that different nowadays, at least mainstream gay fiction (by which I mean TV). So, it’s nice to see that Jon Macy has included in his love story a character who doesn’t care for the whole “mating for life” thing. Byron’s friend the fox is a breath of freshness in what is otherwise rather heavy stuff. He’s as light with his tongue as on his feet, seemingly carefree but possessing a big heart full of concern for his friends. A trickster Byron is glad to have on his side.
I also want to point out that while this is not an erotic comic and there’s no sex scene in this issue (contrary to the previous one), the naked quotient is rather high. Druids pratice naked, and Byron looks good in whatever he’s (not) wearing. There are little touches I found particularly fun, such as the panels where Eanruig deposes a floating magic word on Oisin’s backside.
So, Fearful Hunter is now concluded. We still have a 300-page collection to look forward to, which will include contributions by various artists (more about it when I see a copy), but we have to say goodbye to the enthralling world of Oisin and Byron. Jon Macy has another long-form project all planned out, and while we might have to wait a few years to see the result of his next work, I’m sure we’ll make do by rereading what has for me a good chance of becoming a classic.