It’s the final months of the year now, and what better way to wind 2015 down than by thinking about what comics to buy.
We’re just two issues in to Beast Wagon and it has etched itself into my mind, and refuses to let go. The psychedelic satire takes further steps into weirdness in this issue, not least with it’s terrifying final Cronenberg-esque image. For those who haven’t yet checked this series out (and you should, it’s fantastic), Beast Wagon is set within Whipsnarl Zoo, on the brink of rebellion. Animals congregate and preach to one another, a monkey takes a hit from a bong handed to him by a carful of teenagers and decides to murder a costumed character, and somewhere in the middle of it all, author Patrick Edwards is having the strangest trip of his life.
Beast Wagon is hitting the satire hard this issue, and it’s really paying off in spades. The lines between civilised human beings and the animals they ‘look after’ becomes thinner and thinner by the page, and as the rebellion brews, you get a great sense of foreboding. There is a storm coming, and when it hits, this book is going to be something really, really special.
Owen Michael Johnson’s writing is still way ahead of the rest of the pack, and John Pearson’s art is a perfect fit. His Whipsnarl Zoo falls somewhere between Gilliam and Dante, a nightmarish vision of hell. This is a book that will claw under your skin, lay eggs, and birth them months later when you least expect it. Beast Wagon continues to be one of the highlights of a great year.
“Somewhere on the edge of the desert. 1600 years after Eden,” opens the first issue of Jason Aaron (Southern Bastards) and r.m. Guera’s The Goddamned, a brand new Image title. These words are plastered over a double page spread of a blanched, scorched desert, trees have burned, skeleton’s line the ground, and a young boy pisses over the edge of a precipice onto a corpse. The corpse is not a corpse, but the sleeping body of Cain, “the man who invented murder,” as this first issue later tells us. Cursed to walk the Earth, he’s trying to find a way out, and that way, if this issue is anything to go by, is to murder a lot more men, and fight a dinosaur. There’s a bit more to it than that, but not much.
The Goddamned is Conan by way of Mel Gibson’s blood splattered Bible. It’s beyond silly, and extraordinarily gory and exploitative, giving it a proper pulp feel. Aaron’s script is slight, with very little dialogue and few captions – though what he does have is great fun – leaving most of the heavy lifting up to r.m. Guera, who previously collaborated with Aaron on the brilliant Scalped. Guera’s work here is great: disgustingly detailed and with the same great sense of scene setting that Scalped has. It’s clear that these two work well together.
The Goddamned is thin on a lot of things, but it’s certainly not a boring comic. It’s tremendous fun, and one of the weirder mainstream books this year. Well worth a punt.
Next month, it’s Christmas, and we’ll celebrate in the traditional Pull List way, with a top ten comics of the year.