Tuesday, October 13, 2015


The natural intersection of heavy metal, comic books and sex was most loudly exploited by music's hairiest Smurf, Glenn Danzig, who bankrolled this line of gruesome but amazingly well-illustrated pornographic comics in the 1990s. For a real surprise, don't rely on the contents of the books, but rather be truly amazed that the company is apparently still around? Wow. I did not see that coming.

A sampling of Verotik's lineup will give you a large dose of Liam Sharp, some urban legends turned into wank material and a comic about a supernatural being with vaginas on her ribcage, which I'm sue I never saw in the Monster Manual. Maybe in Deities and Demigods, I dunno. Whatever the case, the company has suffered the most horrifying yet sexy fate to befall any comic company - being turned into a mill for licensed films.

Halloween Mask (Sleepwalker)
A perforated, kiss-cut cardstock comic cover which can be punched out and worn as a Halloween mask – hell, what kid wouldn’t flip their lid over that? Imagine your delight as an eight or nine year old, not only getting a comic to read but getting a neat mask out of it! Who could you be – Captain America? The Hulk? Spider-Man? No, you could be Sleepwalker, that is your only choice kid, I hope you enjoy it. It was a weird choice for Marvel to waste the die-cut casting money on, surely Spider-Man would have sold a billion, but also maybe years later there were a lot of weird young adults who couldn’t bear to go out in public unless masked as a noseless green booger with bug eyes, in which case this cover served an important public service. God bless you, punch-out Sleepwalker mask cover comic book.

Pinhead vs Marshall Law
Hyper-violent superhero satire Marshall Law had always had a pain-is-pleasure motif to its vibe, which made it a compelling - if not perfect - fit for this highly unusual crossover with the Cenobites of the film and novel Hellraiser. Law had originated as a scathing, brutal, darkly funny and knowingly unreasonable critique of superhero power fantasies, while the Hellraiser series was just the kind of thing you get from a culture in the throes of economic comfort and late-stage awareness of its imperial aims. I'm sorry, I meant to say it's "the new face of terror," I don't know what those political words mean, I just discuss comic books.

 It was also the apotheosis of the idea begun in Marshal Law's first arc, even though the series continued well past making its emphatic point. Which is, itself, sort of the point that Marshal Law was trying to make about superheroes in the first place, so if there's a more perfect crossover in the character's history, I'm not sure I've ever seen it.

Eclipso: The Darkness Within
Fans love it when superheroes fight, except according to every message board I've ever read that isn't titled "Superhero fight you most want to see!" Comic book fans are a confusing bunch, but still ...

The problem with getting superheroes to fight without making them seem merely peevish and short-sighted is a challenge for the best genre writers. A handy way to do it, suggests this DC cross-promotional event, is to have the living god embodiment of human evil stick them with a Satanic Ring-Pop and turn them evil, forcing them to fight if only because evil people never just work things out by talking.

Like a lot of crossover events, Eclipso proved handy for clearing the plate a little - not only did the somewhat dull superhero Starman snuff it in advance of James Robinson's replacement character of the same name, second-generation Wildcat and Dr.Midnight were unceremoniously offed in the subsequent spin-off series, allowing the originals to step back in for a while. Comics is harsh.

There’s almost inarguably no other character who emerged from the Nineties with a greater cachet, particularly for not having a global megacorp behind his push: action figures, merchandise, a pair of films directed by a well-respected storyteller (and which are nonetheless a little gooey, story-wise, but what the hell they’re fun), direct-to-dvd animation (which isn’t exactly an endorsement, you know), and so on.

What Hellboy also launched was a wave of books whose plots, inaccurately distilling the essence of Hellboy, boiled down to “Weird guy fights monsters.” Luchadors fight monsters, kids fight monsters, robots fight monsters, dogs fight monsters, fight dinosaurs, fight leprechauns, and so on, and so on. Some of these had particular merit, some didn’t, but even the Hellboy franchise depended on spinning out additional books with this premise, which makes Hellboy additionally unique among the fraternity of Nineties’ debuts in that he midwifed a whole subgenre on his very own.

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