If you brought Lovecraft back from the dead, fed him some shrooms, and made him watch Spinal Tap, then the result would be rather similar to This Damned Band. Unless you are bonkers (or, perhaps, not bonkers enough), that's a good thing. When I first saw the solicit for this comic, I didn't put two-and-two together and missed the play on words in the title (I'm also quick to browse through images and ignore plot synopses). Because of that, and with its fittingly unassuming and generic 70's cover, I thought this was just a comic about a band. The line artist, Tony Parker, thus seemed like a surprising choice; almost as weird as choosing the same-named point guard of the Spurs. "Tony Parker?" I thought to myself, "The guy who draws Mass Effect and all other manner of sci-fi and/or monstery goodness? Why is he drawing these Led Zep wannabes?"
Even though you are now more prepared (and probably already were) to enter this world than I was, This Damned Band #1 will still lure you in slowly and then snap you right up in a bad mushroom trip for the ages. Cornell paces the issue perfectly to marinate the reader in the kind of self-parody of 70's wannabe rock occultism that we have come to expect. Just when the gag is reaching its peak (as are most of the band), the script gets flipped turning what would otherwise be a routine first issue into a great gateway into this story.
The stars of this issue and, I imagine, of this series going forward, are Tony Parker and acclaimed colorist Lovern Kindzierski. Giving the world within the comic a distinct but familiar 70's style is only one task they deftly handle: the mushroom-and-satan-induced transition from the far-out world of the backstage of 70's rock concerts to the slightly more far-out world of demons and trolls is handled gorgeously.
The artistic team and Cornell are singing in unison on this one, and the result is a crisp narrative pace that actually feels like a documentary. Pages most often revolve around individual characters in order to flesh out the world in which this story takes place and advance the plot. The steady narrative tempo that gives the first bits of this story its distinct feel makes the record-scratch of an ending all the more satisfying.