When I began typing this review, I accidentally referred to the issue as 'Hot Mess #1' instead of 'Hot Damn #1'--a Freudian slip if I've ever heard one. "Hot Damn #1" is a book that I can't legitimately imagine anyone liking. Don't get me wrong, taste varies a lot, and no doubt many will feel warmer towards Ferrier and Ramon's hellish, in more ways than one, story than I did, but I can't see anyone claiming it as a legitimately good comic. It's a muddled, messy, distasteful read, that drags a lot more than anything at 24 pages should. Ryan Ferrier and Valentin Ramon had a surprise hit last year with their robot/midlife crisis comedy "D4VE" which managed to spin a sequel and a print run out of its digital only release. It's perhaps unsurprising than that "Hot Damn" borrows liberally from "D4VE"s formula. Once again Ferrier's story is set in a fantastic world, this time Hell, which contrasts to the aggressively mundane lives of the inhabitants. The demons/angels use cellphones, throw modern slang around (albeit painfully exaggerated and absurd modern slang), and generally act like the miserable employees of a large bureaucracy. It's all very familiar, and not particularly fresh after having just seen it in "D4VE" which was a hell of a lot better.
You'll notice I have yet to mention much of a plot in Hot Damn #1, and that's because, as far as I can see, there is none. Don't get me wrong, we have a main character in the form of the recently-dead Teddy Graham, but he doesn't have any notable motivations. Things do happen in the issue, including an illegal demon possession and a meeting with a mythic figure, but in general the book simply meanders with the literally and figuratively lifeless Teddy from gross-out moment to gross-out moment, never bothering to build any momentum. The world that Ferrier has set up is not interesting enough to sustain this sort of pointless exploration, and the book feels bloated with its mass of random events and images.
Adding to the problems, are a couple of moments of philosophical ramblings that feel like Ferrier cribbed some notes on religion from Garth Ennis' Preacher and mixed them with, of course, D4VE. It turns out God is pretty much a business owner who is simply trying to peddle his goods and services (a point driven home by heaven appearing as mass of advertizing). It's a plot point that likely seeks to aim some barbs at organized religion but is too generic and nonsensical to have much edge to it. I'm rarely a fan of God showing up as a character, since he tends to be merely a stand in for a writer’s feelings about religion or a literal Deus ex Machina, and his appearance here is more than a little annoying.
In a word, Ferrier's work here is messy, and his extremely talented partner on art can't save things. Colored in the dull grey-green of sewer water, Valentin Ramon's hell is a mass of shapeless buildings crawling with decayed, wounded, and monstrous denizens. Ramon's linework is still incredibly sharp, but when the script calls for constant hideousness and sequences of vomit, this is not necessarily a plus. Every character, the main ones included, are ugly to look at in a way that makes them hard to sympathize... even for hell-damned sinners and satanic demons. Ramon's colors are perhaps the most off-putting element here, as random elements are drawn in bright colors, contrasting horribly with the color-scheme of everything else. In one scene that has the character drinking at a dive bar, Ramon colors their noses such a bright shade of red, that they could likely put Rudolph out of a job.
I'd normally qualify this negative of a review with some suggestion that one issue is too little to judge, and perhaps things will improve with time, but I can't do that here. I knew well before I reached the end of "Hot Damn #1" that I would not be back for more. And as it turns out, the only time I felt like the title was really appropriate was when I realized nothing was compelling me to read more. Hot damn!
[button btn_url="" btn_color="blue" btn_size="large" btn_style="default" btn_outlined="no" link_target="blank" link_rel="" icon_left="" icon_right=""]Score: 1/5[/button]
Hot Damn #1 Writer: Ryan Ferrier Artist: Valentin Ramon Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Release Date: 4/13/16 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital