The protagonist of Justin Peniston and William Orr’s webcomic Hunter Black was once an assassin whose preferred weapon was the bow, until an act of betrayal put him in the path of a mystical, revenge-thirsty sword. Now he’s obsessed with his own quest for revenge—if his many enemies don’t kill him first.
Hunter Black made his living as an archer for hire, killing anyone he was paid to kill. But he was betrayed by someone close to him and sent to the Hell Pyramid, a deadly prison that few people escape from. Hunter was one of those supposedly lucky few, but his time in the prison left him with a wasting sickness. On his way to freedom, however, Hunter came to possess the Revenger, a powerful sword that extends Hunter’s life, but only if he wets its blade in the blood of a betrayer.
The problem is that Hunter is neither a swordsman nor an expert in mystical doo-dads. The latter causes him no end of problems, since Hunter doesn’t know the rules of his weapon. What happens if he uses the sword to kill someone who hasn’t committed a betrayal? What if he uses it against someone who betrayed him personally? What if he uses it to commit a betrayal? Magic has rules, and rubbing up against those rules has consequences.
Hunter may have little patients for such rules, but he respects combat and realizes he needs a teacher to train him to wield his sword. It’s clear that, before Hunter can get his own revenge, he’ll accumulate plenty more betrayals to avenge.
Hunter Black is billed as “hard-boiled fantasy,” but between Peniston’s writing and Orr’s art, the comic never forgets the fun. This is a world filled with crime bosses, bookies, assassins, ambitious swordsmen more interested in money than skill, pirates, and religious extremists, but there’s plenty of humor amidst the grim. It helps that Hunter himself is a bit of a wry fellow. Doom may be hanging over his head, but he’s still very much living in this strange world, and he has plenty of things to say about it.