Sunday, June 26, 2016

Heavy Metal # 280

And so it begins....

The first issue with Grant Morrison credited as Editor-in-Chief.  Kevin Eastman is still noted as Publisher.  Frank Forte and R.G. Llarena, as well as Rantz Hoseley and Michael Moreci, are listed as Content Editors.  So some names familar to me as a Heavy Metal reader, and some new.

Again I get the newstand cover.  The cover image itself is eye-catching and colorful.  Nubiles in worshipful positions around a baby diety, with a lot of teeth.  Babe-i-tude is dialed down.  Grant Morrison's name.  The same "The World's Greatest Illustrated Magazine tagline.  Rating?  7 - it looks cool.

Immediately noticable is a heavier stock cover, and a binding that solidifies an entire quarter inch on the edge.  Which immediately causes a visible crease upon opening.  Immediately showing that the issue has actually been read.  I'm not sure how much I like this binding method.  I imagine it would not be a good thing for two page spreads, which were already compromised (for dozens of years now...) when the mag went away from staples.  I imagine there are good reasons for doing it this way now, and it does give a nice immediate feel.  The inside paper seems of no less quality than before.

Inside an ad for another actual movie.  A typical-looking table of contents.  An then right into Mr Morrison's introductory editorial.  A multi-page firefight of projectile logorrhea, it was sometimes so amusing I didn't even mind some of the contrived convolutions.  Mixed in with metaphors of spring and rebirth applied to his new gig at HM, are only a couple hints of the future of the mag.  There will be another one, and even more, and he's open to suggestions.  I expect he actually has more structured plans than it may seem, but I'll be surprised if they include this level of wordgurgitation for every issue.  For now I will be happy to see the mag's continued existence and seeing how it goes.

So some noticable changes and some less so and some things the same.  To the stories.

Beachhead by Grant Morrison, Benjamin Marra, Tom Forget, and Alan Wollet - 6 - Invading Aliens find Earth inhabited by only bacteria, which don't put up much of a fight.  The art has some pretty nice composition and some fun detail, like expressive cheek tendrils, but something about the style isn't for me, like it's too comicy for what I think this story was trying to tell.  The writing (by you-know-who) likewise wants to have more fun with the invaders' thirst for conquest than dwell on the wasteland they encounter.  But wait, there's more!

A Mind Bomb by Anna Laurine Kornum - 7 - An institutionalized young woman tells her story, only to be dismissed by the authorities.  The art and telling of this story work well together to open a window to mental illness.  Reality is tenuous.

Goddess by Ryan Ferrier and Hugo Petrus - 6 - The forest goddess comes for retribution.  Overall I liked much about this one, like the line art and non-conventional page layouts, and the heavily accented dialogue.  Sometimes the coloring overpowered the line art rather than enhanced it, and storytelling got jumpy a couple times.

The boring sequential story by Aladin Saad - 8 - Holy smokes!  Did I ever have fun with this one!  A seriously absurd tale told with such innocent fervor.  Now, spelling and grammar errors are nothing new in HM (like "unblanced this realm..." in the previous story), indeed, with so much of the content of the mag over the years needing translation into English for me to read, it's part of the fun.  And likewise, the art doesn't need to be good for it to be enjoyable.  But this entry, it's hard to express the number and levels of ways I enjoyed it.  Start with the title.  Only there and one other spot in the story, is the word "sequential" not spelled "sequentail", and in these two places, it was edited in.  Look at the shadow letters of the title.  Even with the translation (or maybe the author was just learning English), it's clear the author was adding some self-deprecation to the storytelling, making it easier to laugh.  It's Galileo gets his telescope, as a gift, from Santa.  The art is bursting with repeated uses of various snips and samples, modified and arranged with wacky but still linear progression.  And then, in his searching the heavens, he spies Heavy Metal Magazine, and Mr Eastman!  Comic antics ensue.  I found this so amusing, that it even got published, that it's in Mr Morrison's first issue, that it's so good and so bad at the same time, that it seemed to have such an attitude.  I don't want to ask for more funky stuff like this, this might be enough, but it was fun.

Julia & Roem by Enki Bilal - 8 - Incredibly lovely as always, in this entry I found the in-story confusion with Shakespeare compelling.  Some characters feel it, to varying degrees, some don't seem to.  The odd instances of fantasy polar confusion of polar bears and penguins (as also in the finale of Animal'z, hard to believe that was well over a year ago) and a random guy finding a random fish in the last panel, added to the mystery for me.

The Artist's Studio with Mimi Scholz - 7 - I quite enjoyed the fantastical imagery and detailed execution.  I would enjoy her work in a story, but that doesn't look like it's her thing.  With a nice interview with Ms Scholz that provides insight to her process.

The Key by Massimiliano Frezzato - 7 - A lovely rendering of what appears to be two lovers holding each other in their hearts.  The metaphor of sitting on animals shooting arrows across distances is sort of opaque, and the pairing of a grizzled middle-aged guy and a very young-looking girl is somewhat concerning, but it looks nice and I still liked it.

Time Served by Kyle Charles, Michael Moreci, David Croteau, Ryan Ferrier - 6 - Dystopian future prison break.  There's some nice-looking comic fun in there, though the panels and details are so small it can be hard to make out. 

The 49th Key Part Eight by Erika Lewis, J.K. Woodward - 6 - Bodi finds his home (apparently) in a polar volcano.  So bad guys' guns can fall into lava it seems.  I can only imagine all the actors on green screen sets and the enormous list of CGI credits this would take to be the movie it so wants to become.  And it's not done yet.

An ad for a "Cold Waves V" music fest thing in Chicago in September?  Why?  I wondered, until I saw a "DJ Aeon Fox" noted for one of the shows.  Who happens to be name checked in Mr Morrison's editorial as his "nearest and dearest".  So, if you're the new editor of a mag, why not promote your darling's show?

Magic Words by Eric M. Esquivel, Scott Godlewski, Ryan Cody - 6 - a one page speculation on the nature of reality.  I thought it was a thought-provoking idea, that I would have liked to see realized in more depth.

The Century Guild - A Curated Gallery by Thomas Negovan - 6 - an article about an art gallery in Los Angeles.  Featured is Gail Potocki, whose name I thought I recognized from other work in HM, but all I found was that she did an alternate cover for this issue #280.

Fiendy by Gary T. Becks and David Paul - 7 - I like Fiendy, it's very silly and fun, and looks good.  This is perhaps not my favorite one, but I still liked it fine.

Lepidopteran by Emilio Balcarce and Gaston Vivanco - 6 - A fighter jet encounters a foe it can't destroy.  The drawing can be good, the dialog is especially badly translated, and I've seen the alien bug collector ending before.  I wonder if the five blue planes are a Bermuda Triangle reference.

Salsa Invertebraxta by Mozchops - 6 - An insect story set in a jungle world.  The art can be very nice, though it goes dark and murky for the second half.  The dialog is some hipster poetry of some sort, telling some story about the impermanence of existence I think.  It says part one of six, so I'll see if this goes anywhere I like.

An ad for the Century Guild Museum of Art, and then a couple pages of HM comics ads, a notice of the next issue on sale June 29, and then a back cover that's art and ad at the same time.  So I had fun with this issue and I'll look forward to getting the next pretty soon.