Monday, April 30, 2018

Heavy Metal # 289

After excess putzin' around on other topics and things, I'm finally getting to this review.  I noted there were almost three months between this and the previous issue.

Noted as the "Sci-Fi Special", I got the newsstand cover A, "Frontier 2600" by Jonathan La Mantia, a sort of western landscape with a bunch of vector-graphic elements, reminding me of the cover A for # 287, Mass Ritual by Kilian Eng, with some similar elements (as well as a console video game that I think was Battle Zone from the early 80s).  Some interesting features and not embarrasing to take to the store counter.  I'll give it a 6.

This issue is tied to the Heavy Metal AR app, advertised on the inside front cover, where an app-enabled device will bring up "augmented reality" versions of select images in the mag.  I did not get the app, I don't feel like being tracked that way, but there was a short video on the HM Fbook.  As someone who grew up when the phone had a rotary dial and you had to get up to change the channel on the tv, today's tech is astounding, and walking around with hand-held supercomputers is the coolest.  And the graphic techniques available now, compared to the previously mentioned video game for example, are amazing.  But an app that grabs pre-set imagery when it recognizes a picture, isn't too exciting to me.

Mr Morrison's editorial embarks on an intergalactic journey of reworn references and aggressively asserted happiness.  His capacity for word extrusion is astounding, as is his persistence.

"The Door" Chapter 1 by Esau Escorza and Mickael Moreci - 7 - also with Adam Woller and R.G. Llarena.  My impression is mostly favorable, with pretty and technical renderings of a post-something-or-other urban jungle, and a dynamic-reality plotline and a young protagonist who brings to mind some Alice in Wonderland feelings.  In this time of evolved/improved gender and power awareness, the frequent teasing of an up-skirt perspective of the young girl is uncomfortable, especially in the context of her getting misdirection from and misled by the supporting cast of characters.  Her willful resourcefulness may redeem the story, so we'll see if and when Chapter 2 comes around.

"Ten Sounds that Represent a Kind of Person" a Historical Parody by Grant Morrison and Ben Marra - 7 - Ambitious and fanciful, the deification of Bowie continues apace.  Referenced as a mashup of Bowie material in Mr Morrison's editorial, I enjoyed the fuzzy awareness I gained from the transgressive presentation of snippets of Mr Bowie's life and work.

"Neon Wasteland:  An Abstract Manga" by Rob Shields - 6 - I liked the whiffs of Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell, and the pizza delivery car plopped in the middle was fun to examine.  Overall the digital imagery looked simplistic to me, even unfinished.  This is noted as one of the HM-app-able stories, so I'm missing out on some of its intent.  It's "to be continued" so I'll be interested to see if it's still app-licable in future installments.

"Murky World" Part 2 by Richard Corben - 7 - our protagonist's misadventures continue, in a world where things aren't as they seem.  Which seems ... familiar.  Still great fun to look at, and to look forward to more.

"The Color of Air" Part 6 by Enki Bilal - 8 - The characters inch closer together as their world keeps transforming itself, and the story flirts with parable and allegory, and with more color.  Having Corben and Bilal together seems to add artistic and historical weight to this issue.

Artist Spotlight - Beeple - 7 - With an interview by Rantz Hoseley.  I liked how the art showed various styles and settings with consistently strong execution.  Beeple refers to making a picture a day, which sounds like a lot of work.  Some are pretty dark, I bet those are faster, but I can imagine he's done all kinds of stuff.

"The Chimeran" by Paul Goodenough and Ben Oliver, with Simon Furman and Annie Parkhouse - 7 - I liked the art enough, on the sketchy side for me perhaps, but it was nicely composed and succeeded in showing action and introspection.  The premise is kinda out there, an experimental community of man and chimeran, where a chimeran appears to be a humanoid-canine hybrid or such.  The chimeran we see is charged as a child's companion, but suffers abuse from others, as well as from feelings of inadequacy.  The storytelling is painfully compelling.  It's impressive how well it conveys emotions from the view of a creature whose humanity is perhaps less than ours?  Or is it?  This installment finishes with "The Start of the End", so perhaps there's more?

"The Womb" by Tony Leonard - 7 - Near as I can tell, this is about some space-future-time proto-human transdimensional birthing facility.  With art that looks hand-drawn and made me think of Druillet sometimes, lines like "proto-embryonic flux, maintained!" and an abundance of sound effects, it puts on a frenzied pace.  Pretty fun though.  And it ends, "A new adventure, in the psycho-verse.." and I can't tell if we'll see more or not.

Gallery with Rob Shields - 6 - More app-fodder here apparently.  There's much to like, some imagination, some retro-future street-punk aesthetic, certainly some neon colors.  I think the rather static style of the digital art works better here in a gallery than in the creator's previous story.

An ad for the Taarna comic.  Don't know if I'll ever see this one.  Maybe I should actually go look.  Did you see the Frank Cho "Arzach meets Taarna" on HM twitter?  Now that was funny, on several levels.

Happy!  An interview with Grant Morrison by Rantz Hoseley.  Mr Morrison talks about a tv show he wrote.  I haven't seen it and may not ever, and essentially interviewing himself in "his" mag about "his" tv show is kinda self-serving, but I guess I won't let it bother me.

An ad for a "49th Key" book is followed by an inside the back cover ad for the Iron Maiden video game, followed by a back cover ad for Mr Morrison's Happy!  None of this interests me, but I suppose more ads is better if you run a magazine.

I see I'm mostly staying in my lane as far as my ratings of this issue.  I mostly liked most of the stuff, every now and then something stands out that I enjoy more.  I think that goes to the relative consistency of the mag and its content over these couple years of the Morrison era.  Hoping the future brings us more like it.


  1. Hey, Fred, what did you think of the Happy! series?

  2. Hey, I haven't seen it and may not ever. It seems only related to HM by Mr Morrison and the ads and interview in the mag. What do you think?

  3. Fred got really cool with a good black humor!

  4. I got the impression that the Chimera story has something to do with transgendered people. They may have feelings of inadequacy as one gender or another, must choose which gender to dress as and still people harass them, some choose to alter their bodies with surgery or hormones (maybe even both and still things may not work out the way they hope. At least they aren't for the Chimera in the story.
    I liked it in all it's painful probing of the issue.