Monday, October 17, 2016

Heavy Metal #282

Cover "Taarna Returns" by Patrick Reilly - 7 - It's the "Cover A" from the bookstore, and it's the winner of HM's cover art contest.  It's got several features of typical HM cover art, a babe, a monster, a sword, and it is more than just a pin-up.  It also references the 1981 Heavy Metal movie's most famous segment.  (I'll take this opportunity to note how Mr Morrison and also Jeremy Holt, the writer for the HM comic Skip to the End, have said in interviews that they had not seen the HM movie.  This interests me since the HM movie presents a conflict in my mind about HM's cultural impact, in that the HM movie is often what HM means to a lot of people, while I thought when it came out that it missed much of the mag's ability to inspire imagination.  And it was in the first (and best) five years of the mag's almost 40 year history.  It's likely too much to expect for these two to have read every issue, and seen the movies and years of other crap, like a dork like me has, but for two current significant contributors to have not seen the movie is amusing to me.)  I imagine the "classic" aspect of this entry won it the grand prize.  Even though it's not too much a "sci-fi" cover for this Sci-Fi Special.  There's also a feature inside about the cover contest, which has the other published covers and more of the entries.


I didn't see any new relatives' names listed on the contents page, but I did notice that the contents page art is credited (by Jakub Rozalski who also is featured in the Gallery) and mostly has been recently.  I don't think that's always been the case, sometimes a signature could be seen but sometimes it was a guessing game.


The Editorial is a slightly amusing joke, written by a computer rather than Mr Morrison (can't fool me, I saw Mr Morrison credited on the contents page).  A riff on 2001's Hal, it still manages to name staff and contributors and puff up the mag.  What will he think of next?


Atomahawk by Donny Cates, Ian Bederman, Taylor Esposito - 7.5 - A "cyberzerker" scourges the earth, obeying his blade's thirst for death.  While the art may be the least part of this feature, it sometimes looks like it's drawn with colored markers, it still has great composition and is very successful conveying brutal action and progressing the story.  Similarly the writing sets a dramatic tone and mostly avoids being overwrought, and has a few clever bits.  It says to be continued so I can look forward to more fun.


Gavrilo C-914 by Zeljko Pahek - 8 - (miscredited as "C-194" on the contents page) Extra points for the classic black and white style, and that Mr Pahek has been a HM contributor since 1989.  Misadventures on a robot movie set.  The black and white art is not what you'd call a clear line style, there are snips and bits all over the place, but I like it.  It can feel quite gritty, and can fit quite well with a decrepit steam future with coal-fired robots, and it's been used well over the years in HM, not just by Mr Pahek.


Industria by Grant Morrison and Ran Hughes - 5 - subtitled "and the toilet that traveled through time".  While I'm not too excited by another overly busy gang of stereotyped super spies presented in comic form, I did find a few of the jokes funny, and the art is colorful and nicely executed.  It is kinda sci-fi too.  I'm concerned we might be afflicted with more of this story, but it might just be another preview of a HM-published standalone comic, so I may be spared.


Zentropa by John Mahoney - 7 - my heavens, what a delightful, tripped-out mess.  Good thing I'm easily amused by scrutinizing details and obtuse storytelling, else I'd get frustrated by the incoherence of it all.  I might guess it's some sort of dream sequence, but I hope it doesn't end with a "and then I woke up".  We'll get a chance to find out, maybe, since it's "to be comntinued..."


Gallery-Design by Jakub Rozalski - 6 - with an interview answering a few anonymous questions.  The artist says it best, "The countryside, nineteenth century paintings, extraordinary giant machines, wild nature and animals".  With an affection for two-or-more legged walking machines, smoking or not, there's some quite nice looking and imaginative work.  Perhaps it doesn't demonstrate a wide range of subject matter, but it does what it does nicely.


America Owns the Moon by Craig Wilson - 6 - A moon colonization expedition doesn't go as planned, depending on whose plan you're talking about.  It seems it's supposed to be an alternate future, with a reference to President Kennedy returning from Dallas.  A fast paced sci-fi-ish story, and more stereotyped characters, though I was amused by "Mortimer Drumpf, bazillionaire son of the Drumpf dynasty..." which made me wonder how timely it was really supposed to be, and the "ex-football great turned-botantist" who made me think of Richard Branson for some reason (or maybe it's supposed to be Lebowski).  The art is demonstrative if not evocative, it's got some funny bits, like the "stoned agin" poster and lava lites.  


Julia and Roem by Bilal - 9.8 - My highest rating ever, and I'll admit to inflating it for sentimental reasons.  As with the previous Animal'z, it's been a joy to have such wonderful work from Bilal, one of the titans of HM's history.  I really did enjoy this story, I liked where it went with the Shakespeare references.  I'm sure there were many I didn't even get.  That it came up with a happy ending, because someone knew the script but didn't follow it, was actually fun.  And I liked the art and often finding things I thought were quite lovely. 


The Human Curse by Leonie O'Moore - 5 - A somewhat interesting premise, that the now-extinct humans were cursed and artifacts from their era carry the curse, even though no one knows what the artifacts were meant for.  I'm afraid the story didn't do enough to convince me of the believability of the premise, and the art had some nice aspects but was otherwise unable to advance the story.


Gallery-Art, the Threadless Heavy Metal Cover Art Contest - 7 - Featuring the winners and several other entries in the cover art contest.  A broad range of styles and subject matter is displayed in the couple dozen entries shown.  I liked most of them in one way or another.  They all have strong points, and not many have weaknesses, but I don't want to single any out one way or the other.  I did note the relative lack of cheesecake styled pinups, which I would think would be more predominant if this contest was held a few years ago.


Genres by Diego Agrimbau and Pietro - 6 - a comic about comic artists as the subject of a comic by otherworldly comic artists.  Clever if perhaps not too deep.  The art and storytelling are ok, I liked the premise and how it was presented even more.


City Beneath the Waves by Dwayne Harris - 6 - Future undersea explorers have their Charleton Heston "Damn you, damn you all to hell!" moment, or maybe it's their "I H8 NY" moment.  (miscredited as "City Under the Waves" in the contents page).


Interceptor preview - 5 - Looks ok, a promo for a HM trade paperback by Donny Cates and Dylan Burnett.  This might have been an ok teen titans vs. alien vampire story if it was in the mag, but it's just another comic I won't seek out.


Slow Dancer by Bill Sienkiewicz - 8 - subtitled "Or:  Movements Calculated to Drive You Lonely - Or Worse".  Noted "1983", which would indicate this was not digital, and it shows, it looks done by hand, (the second page has three images of "the doc" from the same perspective and pose, but they are not just copies), not like most of what you see in the mag lately, though the robot editorial said it was "newly remastered" so I can't be sure.  I thought I recognized Mr Sienkiewicz's name, but I was surprised to only find two entries when searching the HM web site cover gallery.  I had thought he was a more frequent contributor.  The internet told me he is a well-known comic guy, and that this was his first writing effort, and it appeared in Epic in 1986.  The story is likewise anachronistic, more moody and subtle than wailing its pain, one man's struggle, and loss, against the conniving power structure.  It made me think about how things were 30 years ago.


Salsa Invertebraxa by Mozchops - 7 - Part Three it says.  This one really came out of the shadows, with page after page of lavish colors and neuron-fusing depiction of insect life.  I am more impressed by the attention to detail, that makes me think these are images of actual insects, instead of from a vivid imagination.  I think I figured out that the protagonist is the guy with the long ear-like appendages.  On the last page it even looks like it gets a facial expression.  It would be interesting to know what kind of insect it is.  I still am having a hard time following this, maybe I'm trying too hard.  The hipster poetry narration isn't helping.  There's supposed to be six of these if I recall, so maybe I'll have a chance to figure it out.


The Key by Grant Morrison and Rian Hughes - 6 - It starts with jackbooted thugs throwing someone in the river, then we see crowds with locks around their necks, in city canyons with what looks like propaganda videos on the walls, so I get the impression it's showing a modern conformist oppressive society.  It seems to continue with a cry for individualism rising in the crowd, shown by the contrast of the identical lock collars and key images in the propaganda, with the ornate antique keys that actually unlock the collars.  The art looks good and nicely done, with hard edges and subdued colors setting a harsh and rigid scene, but without dialog, I was not sure how well I put the images together to make the story.  I'm pretty sure I'm missing something.  The most enjoyment I got from this, was in contrasting it with the previous "Slow Dancer", which had a similar theme in my mind, but approached its story and presentation in very different ways.  To me, having these in the same issue presented an opportunity to consider some of the ways that things have changed in the times between when these two stories were produced, in HM, and in my life.


The back cover is a riff on Taarna, with a woman wearing a t-shirt with the Cover A contest winner image on it, flailing her hair and perhaps her sword.  While she's wearing a t-shirt and not the incredibly unlikely Taarna outfit, and it looks like a katana rather than a broadsword, I enjoyed how it evoked and displayed the cover image without trying to duplicate it.

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