“THIS DAMNED BAND #1” (Comic Book Review)Book and Comic Reviews,Books/Art/Culture,News Svetlana Fedotov
Satan and rock ‘n’ roll have gone hand in hand ever since Elvis wiggled his hips on TV to the screaming hysterics of girls everywhere. While some bands attempt to quell the fears of the masses by refuting that Dark Lord’s presence anywhere near their work, others like Black Sabbath and the Rolling Stones run with the premise and frequently invoked his unholy visage in their shows. But Satan isn’t actually real, right? Well, according to Motherfather, the stars of Dark Horse’s newest series THIS DAMNED BAND, it depends on who you ask. Exploring the world of satanic worship and its connection to the dark art of music (with a heavy dose of sex and drugs), this title asks the question, “What if Satan is not only real, but he’s been listening to your band all this time?” Perhaps it’s time to lay off the mushrooms.
The most striking feature of the comic is choosing to treat this fictional world like a documentary, following the band around to create a behind-the-scenes look; it’s essentially a found footage comic. As we tag along with the filmmakers, we are shown the over indulgent world of being a ‘70s mega rock star, including all the women and booze money can buy.
The issue opens up on the Japanese leg of their tour as the lead, Justin Parish, starts talking about his love of the show and black magic, which include cuts of him breaking character and calling it all “bollocks.” It seems like Justin is not nearly as committed to the Devil as he makes it seem. In fact, aside from the groupies, none of them seem to believe it. Yet, for the sake of the camera, they keep up the act, smartly thinking they have outwitted the world, until an unexpected guest shows up. Turns out it wasn’t quite the bollocks they thought it was.
There are a lot of things THIS DAMNED BAND gets right. Aside from the documentary style layout, which is something rarely seen in the medium, Tony Parker’s art is perfectly tailored for the era the comic is set in. That is, it looks like the classic HEAVY METAL art which is in line with the popular comic styling at the time. From the thin ink lines to the splashes of dotted colors that make the backgrounds look like outer space, THIS DAMNED BAND takes the reader right back to the Silver Age of Comics. It even takes a page out of early Vertigo work, mixing dark work with the subtle beauty of art nouveau, foreshadowing into the menacing future of Motherfather. It’s incredibly clever and very well thought out, showing Parker’s expertise in the visual medium
Paul Cornell’s story is just as large as the art and immediately sucks you in. There isn’t a ton of action going on in this issue; in fact, it’s mostly just the band showing the film crew around, but it’s the organic existence of the characters and their surroundings that make the issue move forward. The conversational dialogue is great, the story flows well and the characters, while wholly full of rock star tropes, quickly give way to the people underneath the cloaks.
THIS DAMNED BAND is a fun a read and doesn’t feel like you’re slogging through the first introductory issue just to get to the action scenes. The little details are super fun as well, especially the bit of ‘discography’ added to the back of the comic and personal quotes from Motherfather’s singer himself. Make no mistake, THIS DAMNED BAND will be one of the defining comics of the year, and you can check it out when it hits shelves in August.