Sunday, December 10, 2017

Heavy Metal #288

This is the Weird Issue.  While the theme is emphasized in the editorial, and some of the content does qualify as weird, I still think it's weird that Jett Lucas is noted as Creative Executive on the Contents page, with the other executives.  I wonder what's going on with that weed "edutainment" magazine they were working on.  None of those Contributing Editors this time.

I got the Cover "A" from the bookstore, with Death Dealer by Frank Frazetta.  If ever there was a piece of fantasy art that qualified as Classic, this would be it.  It's older than the recently 40 year old Heavy Metal magazine itself.  You might think Mr Frazetta has been all over HM in its 40 years, but it appears he's only done a couple covers, November 1990 and the #286 Cover B, and a couple other interview features, besides (according to the HM website cover gallery, which I really hope gets updated and maintained, it doesn't seem to have been touched for a year).  So it's highly cool that HM has this famous work on its cover.  This issue also has an article about Mr Frazetta by his son about the painting, much like the article in #286, and an ad for the museum in the back.  I think it's nice Mr Frazetta is getting some regard in HM.  Once I actually saw an actual Frazetta in an actual museum, it was cool.  I won't pretend to be qualified to apply a quantitative rating to this work.

The Table of Contents art is "Berenice" by Natalie Shau, who also did the Cover "B" and has a gallery in this issue.

Mr Morrison's editorial begins with an homage to Len Wein, whom Mr Morrison considers an inspiration, and who contributed to HM a few times in the early years.  It continues with some comments about weirdness, and a handful of mentions of this issue's works.  I noted no mention of Mr Frazetta though.

But he did note the return of Richard Corben, with what seems to be the beginning of a story, "Murky World!".  Anyone who knows about HM certainly knows about Mr Corben.  He's been in dozens of issues, known best for "Den", one of the iconic first stories, and many, many, others.  While he's been working for decades, it's been almost 20 years since he's been in HM.  This story feels quite familiar, not only Mr Corben's lovely and familiar style, but also the setup of a lone wanderer put on a quest.  I am unnerved by the image at the bottom of the first page, I can't tell what the blob of flesh in front of the "Fairy Godmother" is, a foot, a boob, unborn twin?  And the lone eye, eek.  But it's great to have Mr Corben's work in HM again, it's fantastic to see and appreciate the effort and ability displayed.  Such as the shadows of the clouds of dust as the round door closes on the last page, a touch of realism in a fantastic world.  Coming across as a bit irreverent, it makes me think more of Neverwhere than Den.  Especially the last panel with "... he is confronted with a gay masquerade."  We'll see where we go with this one, I'm hoping it'll be fun.  I'll give this one a 9, perhaps inflated for sentimental reasons.

"Where Vices Lead" by John Bivens, with Art Assistants Alex Conkins, Iris Monahan, Hannah Jerrie, & Virgil Franklin - 7 - Dommiel the Gatekeeper confronts a wayward Lord to return him to his circle in Hell.  The art is dynamic, if a bit frantic, and the story, with the implication of more, was enticing.  If we really get entries for the rest of the Lords/Deadly Sins, it'll be cool.

"Frank Frazetta:  The Creator of the Death Dealer" by Frank Frazetta Jr.  Where the famous illusrator's son writes of the history of the iconic painting, how it could never be improved, how Mr Frazetta was convinced to produce more of the series, and how Jr is going to write the story, to be featured in Heavy Metal magazine.  I'm impressed that HM has forged a relationship with the Frazetta franchise, though I will wait and see how this plays out.  No number rating applied.

"Shaman Himiko" by Peach Momoko - 7 - A shaman fortuneteller responds to a supplicant's pleas, by seeing through his lies and condemning him to the misery he inflicted on others.  Pretty to see and does well with its two pages.  I'd like to see more of this creator.

"The House of Heart's Desire" by Grant Morrison and Dominic Regan - 7.5 - A philosophical adventure, a guy finds the door, to the house without a door.  Existential hijinks ensue.  The art style is a bit jagged but evocative, and the story is told energetically and with a joke.  Makes ya think.

"Mouth Baby" by James Harvey - 6 - Young urban parenting, sort of.  This one is certainly weird, and there's much to like in the art and storytelling, and I got at least some of what it tried to say, but it wasn't something I enjoyed.  Maybe the pain is too close to home.  Maybe that's its greatest success.

Gallery - Natalie Shau with an interview by Rantz Hoseley - 6 - A good number of images with plenty of evidence of the artist's great ability.  They can be quite pretty to see.  Though they may not excite me so, there's much to offer to those who are excited by this style.

"The Color of Air" Part 5 by Enki Bilal, translated by Jessica Berger - 8 - Turmoil is coalescing to its unreal apex.  Our intrepid adventurers tumble towards their intersection.  The art gets even prettier and more self aware.  It is yet to be "continued next issue."  My delight continues apace.

"New Madonna" by Grant Morrison,  Menton, Adam Wollet - 5 - More parenting in "Fallen Times."  Weirdness to spare, and I kinda liked to art and the unpaneled image sequence style.  This one didn't grab me like "Mouth Baby" did.

"The Bleeding" by Kevin Eastman, Simon Bisley, Ryan Brown - 7 - It says "inspired by the Song..." by Five Finger Death Punch.  Makes me wonder if there wasn't enough room in the previous Music Special #287 for this one.  Anyway, more HM alums reappear.  Mr Eastman contributed art to the mag a number of times in his tenure, as well as some editorial, and Mr Bisley a bigger number in that time.  (I didn't find Ryan Brown credited in any.)  A song about love, or the opposite.  Multiple settings for multiple facets of the story, in multiple worlds.  I've said it before, Mr Bisley sure can draw.  His portions of this show a familiar and welcome dynamism, ridiculous detail, and inflated rage.  Maybe more to come?

"Preview:  The Heroin Diaries Graphic Novel", Nikki Sixx interview by Rantz Hoseley - 6 - So I think it's a good thing Mr Sixx is using his story to help others (as well as himself), and he seems passionate about life in the interview.  I doubt I'll see this book, but I hope it works out for everyone.

"Hellraiser - The Test" by Ben Meares, Christian Francis, Mark Torres - 6 - Apparently a promo for a Hellraiser book.  I never saw the movie or any books, so I'm missing some background here, but it's a nice little bit of storytelling, and I like the art style pretty well.  Alternate realities with torture and chains?  Perhaps not so much.

So a great deal of stuff for me to like in this issue.  Even with stuff I am less fond of, there's plenty variety in the things we're offered.  I hope the mag can keep on keepin' on like that for a while.


  1. (BiLL)yes Fred also agree with you the magazine is returning its roots not like the classic HM of the 70s more I hope to see the magazine like this for many years!

  2. This sounds really good. Few big names are back and the cover is fantastic. I'm pretty sure it was one of my choices in the line of imaginary covers, so no complaints there, but truth be told, all 3 covers are exquisite. Mr. Morrison is doing a great job.