Saturday, February 14, 2015

Heavy Metal # 272

Well, I sure dragged my ass putting this review together.  The next issue will be out in days.  Good thing no one but me gives a crap.

Cover by Ron Leary - 7 - Titled "ASTRUD:  How to Slay a Snake" in the credits, apparently made just for this cover, judging by the empty space at the top.  More than just a babe in some outfit, this is well composed and kinetic.  The snake's fangs look more like a dog's, and its scales are a little wonky, but it's a nice axe and she's really working it.  But what's up with the pig snout cape and belt ornaments?

Julia and Roem by Enki Bilal - 7 - With a look and feel very much like Animal'z, this starts right in with lost souls and their existential despair, and their hair.  I'm not quite as much in awe of the return of one of HM's titans as the last time, but I'm very interested and looking forward to seeing how this one develops.

Khulan by Katie Houghton-Ward and Sacha Bryning - 7 - This one grew on me in re-reading.  Gods berate their captive for information.  Art and story evoke wonder and mystery, and it takes a dim view of man's, and gods', self importance.  I can dig that.

The Age by Tayyar Ozkan - 5 - Modern man lets himself go, just like a cave man!  While this may not be just a retread of one he's done before, and I think the techniques are well-refined, the story is barely one-dimensional.

Red Sails by Christian Krank - 7 - Saved from romeros in the nick of time.  I like the comic-y but grim style, and for a single page there's a nice little story.

R.I.P. by Matthew Farrell and Mario O.M.G. Gully - 6 - I welcome the return of the text-with-illustration format, it was more common way back in the day.  It's a nice change of pace and offers another means to tell an illustrated story.  It's not easy to do well though, excess wordiness or disconnected illustrations are common pitfalls.  In this case, Mr Gully's illustrations are on the mark, looking good and fitting the story, and the vagrant with the HM shirt is pandering but funny.  Mr Farrell's writing is wordy but not to excess, and there's much about the method and energy I enjoy.  Unfortunately, here and in a couple things by him featured on the HM website, I get the impression of a delight in some of the terrible things humans are capable of inflicting on each other, with little to make me think he sees that people are capable of more, much more.

This touches on a question I have asked myself:  Why?  Why do I like HM magazine despite all the horrible and gruesome and even obscene things that it's contained?  Why do I like Ranxerox and accept the inhumanity it displays (along with its wit and vitality) but complain about things like Mr Farrell's story with a son killing his father and the otherworldly revenge he gets in return?  Why do I enjoy some displays of some of humans' worst impulses?  I've thought that I like to be reminded of man's capacity for hatred and violence, to be reminded of how far we have come, and how far we have yet to go, but I'm not satisfied that this is the whole answer.  I don't know why, but maybe I'll explore these thoughts further another day.

Gallery by Dan Chudzinski - 7 - An accomplished sculptor who credits TMNT for discovering the Italian Renaissance masters?  Well of course he gets a spread in HM!  My snark aside, some neat and interesting stuff is displayed, and his growth and achievement is described.  A bunch of images of some really detailed and imaginative work are provided, and anyone with more interest than me should probably go look him up.

Deviant Strain by Jim Webb - 7 - A zombie superhero?  Why hasn't anyone thought of this before?  On second thought, I expect it's been done and I just haven't seen it.  Now that I've spoiled it for you, the art's pretty good, but the story is really quite good, telling an awful lot, and leaving some mystery, as it reaches its inevitable conclusion.  Mr Webb's also had a Deviant Strain entry in HM's issue #267.

the Giver by Homero Rios, Jose Carcia, and Renato Guerra - 6 - A boy is helped by a mountain sage, at a cost.  It's not bad at all, and a few bits of the illustration were really neat.

Robeo and Ruliette by Zelkjo Pahek - 6 - A robot love story, with some intricate and/or busy illustration, that really could have fit in the mag 30 years ago, or any time in its history.  The story has an odd feature or two, that makes it more mysterious and/or confusing.  Though I'll never know why the human arm appears, I still liked this one just fine.

Moth by Vitorrio Astone - 6 - Humankind falls to alien invaders, and a lone human sacrifices himself, to make a point .... and it works (?).  Looks pretty cool with some non-traditional panel framing and some explosive sound effects.

Another Heavy Metal Dot Com ad, this time the trite slogan falls flat for me.  Does this count as a continuing series?

Artist's Studio by Rebecca Yanovskaya - 7.5 - some lovely imagery with detail and depth, and lots of feathers, made more interesting by reading that the medium is ballpoint pen with gold leaf.  This artist also does a nice back cover.

Heavy Bone by Enzo Rizzi and Nathan Ramirez - 7 - Pretty cool black and white art with a rock and roll story that could have been written 20 years ago, and could easily have fit into HM when rock music was more of a reference point.  A fun imagination of the origin of a Black Babbath song.  Besides, I like Zappa.

Ensign Haley by Wren - 7.5 - I really like how the art's watercolor look adds to the space travel and non-terrestrial characters.  And how the pretty space girl manages to get nude and use sex as a weapon, and her intelligence, and escapes to a life of happy space wandering.  I wish it was really all so simple.  Wren also featured in HM #270 with something similar, and I seem to have liked this one a bit more.

MI9: Secret Agents Abroad in "Kiss Me Honey Honey"by JD & JMB - 6 - the return of the one page sexy secret agent story.  "Are you sure you don't want any clothes Daphne?"  Of course not ...

A pretty nice issue, I got some enjoyment from the stories and some interest in the art.  A couple stories with color themes, and a couple Romeo and Juliet references.  I think the mag's in a pretty good groove, for the most part, and I'd be fine if it kept on this way for a while.  Which it might not.  I'll see what the next issue brings, pretty soon here.  Hope I'm a bit more timely in the next review.