Author Howard Shapiro delivers another solid story about friendship, sacrifice, and life’s trials and tribulations in his new graphic novel, The Hockey Saint. Operating as book two in the Forever Friend’s trilogy, The Hockey Saint sees Tom Leonard leave behind his rock-and-roll band days and high school to take on university life and focus on his skills in the ice rink. But, is “the game” everything in life for Tom? Is there nothing more important? An unlikely friendship will not only force Tom to confront issues like these head-on, but will also force him to make some of the most difficult choices in his life so far.
MINOR SPOILERS BELOW
The Hockey Saint is the story of Tom Leonard as he moves into the next stage of life, both in the sense of attending a university and entering the beginning of adulthood. There have been both positive and tragic occurrences in Tom’s life in the two years that have passed since The Stereotypical Freaks, and while Tom is working hard and doing well on his college hockey team, it’s clear that he feels slightly lost or adrift in life. When Tom causally strikes up a friendship with professional hockey player Jeremiah Jacobson (who just happens to be a millionaire, a media recluse, and, perhaps, the best hockey player in the world) his image of what it is to be rich and famous is shattered and he begins to discover the difference that one person, any person, can make in the lives of others. Still, it’s this very lesson that will force Tom to confront his new-found friend regarding the damaging choices Jacobson’s fame have allowed to go unchecked.
Much like The Stereotypical Freaks, Shapiro delivers another “slice-of-life” script that is not afraid to deal with the fact that loss and the effects of it are a huge part of life and who we eventually become. Shapiro’s characterization is consistent with the previous book, and while I would have loved to have seen Lenoard’s rock-and-roll past addressed in some manner, Shapiro makes it easy for new readers to jump in and enjoy The Hockey Saint without any prior knowledge of the characters. Shapiro’s script also touches on a number of modern issues (war veterans, victims of hunger, mass media, celebrity culture, etc.) and while the depictions can be a little saccharin at times, the inclusion of such themes makes the book feel current and relevant. Shaprio also keeps up his “recommended listening” suggestions for each chapter, and I encourage all readers to take the author up on these reading tunes. You should be able to find most of them with little trouble on YouTube, and they add a whole new layer of emotional resonance to the experience.
Credit must also be given to trusting artist Marica Inoue to tell his story, showing no fear in giving her pages with no dialogue, internal or external, at all. Inoue is a solid talent and deftly uses these opportunities to capture Tom’s isolation and more intimate moments. The artwork work wells throughout the book, and the addition of colorist Andres Mossa (Spider-Man, Deadpool) really takes The Hockey Saint up another notch.
Final Verdict: Definitely worth a read, especially if you enjoyed The Stereotypical Freaks. Hockey enthusiasts may be disappointed that more time isn’t spent actually on the ice, but The Hockey Saint still takes place in the world of the sport and readers, young and old, who looking for something with a positive message and an exciting story will enjoy this graphic novel.
That’s all for now, comic book sniffers. Be sure to get your hands on a copy of The Hockey Saint and don’t miss the The Hockey Saint giveaway that Fanboy Comics is holding, courtesy of author Howard Shapiro!
Till the end of the world,
-Bryant the Comic Book Slayer