Not many comic books could get away with a cover showing a main character simulating the “ball-licking” portion of foreplay, and despite its most ardent efforts to prove the contrary, Zenescope’s pseudo-horror series Screwed also fails to ... “pull it off” ... but not for lack of trying. On the other hand, if this cover is attempting to warn its reader that the book itself “sucks,” then they nailed it! You know what Zenescope is? It’s “that shelf” at Blockbuster Video (when that was still a thing); you know, the one with those flicks that rate somewhere between shoddily produced b-grade action movies and fairly exceptional softcore pornography. This is comic book Cinemax, the kind you watch just in case there might be a boob.
And hey, if you’re a pre-pubescent, walking boner who will take “inspiration” wherever he can get it, then I guess I can see its inherent value. Unfortunately, I’m not that kid anymore, which makes all of their titles, and Screwed especially, feel overly camp and cartoonishly obsolete, especially in a day and age when you can find real porn pretty much everywhere, for free ... and with largely better story lines.
Towing that company line, Screwed continues to follow a current Frankenstinian monstress/former sexy coed as she tries to figure out why she is now an electric-powered undead killing machine with a scarred body, a fractured mind and the annoying habit of seeing almost everyone she encounters as terrifying monsters, who she is then compelled to fight and kill.
This issue, we get a slightly deeper peek down the blouse of our Francesca-stein’s personal history, in terms of her true identity and the series of events that have led her to becoming what constitutes as little better than an electric-powered zombie. Meanwhile, the forces around her vie to capture, control, kill or comfort the thing she has become. Whether it’s a hard-edged (and herself quite buxom) female FBI agent, a cancerously cliché-cracking Frankenstein monster, a buff and bearded (but otherwise mysterious) doctor waiting to unlock her mysteries (presumably via vivisection) or an annoying, self-serving cop named Simon who makes WAY too many Simon Says “jokes,” everybody wants a piece of “dat ass.”
The delivery within this setup is the same Zenescope fare you should be used to by now. Physically strong, yet emotionally fragile (not to mention scantily-clad) women show how “cute” they can be when angry, and suffer the leering presence of not only the smarmy and cocksure male antagonists, but also of the reader him or herself, which made me feel dirty. With a narration that jumps all over the place in terms of perspective, hackneyed dialogue and some very uneven visual storytelling, Screwed is at best predictable. Skipping over the “so good it’s bad” threshold maintained by those flicks I mentioned earlier, and settling directly into “bad,” this is a vapid and uninteresting skin/slasher book with all chest and no heart.
Unlike the name of the comic implies, David Miller’s art feels more like an awkward fumble than a solid screw. His stuff isn’t terrible and I think he shows promise, but much of it here feels like Rob Liefeld in his “prime,” particularly in the way his oddly proportioned bodies ripple sinuously beneath clothes that look like saggy shrouds of cellophane. Similarly, the positions that writer Keith Thomas plots his female characters into is just as much a thinly-veiled misogynist dream of false female strength and submission.
Look, if you’re one of those people who would, without a hint of irony, rent movies with names like Lady-Borg 2, then you’re going to like Screwed. Otherwise, I’d steer clear of this weak attempt to breathe some kind of modern, sexy mojo into the Frankenstein story.
Writer: Keith Thomas
Artist: David Miller
Publisher: Zenescope Entertainment
Release Date: 7/3/13