Okay, this comic is crazy. What begins as a mockumentary style 1970s rock n’ roll story twists and turns into a wild psychedelic trip through comic history and occultism. Certainly this comic was billed as “Spinal Tap meets Ghostbusters” but it’s much more than that. The first few issues in this six part mini-series display the band lightly mocking the occult in their documentary segments, while taking part in normal classic rock debauchery whilst on tour. By issue four, everything has changed and this comic finally piqued my interest.
Author Paul Cornell is obviously a fan of Spinal Tap or this book wouldn’t exist. But that’s far from a bad thing, though some of his jokes miss the mark a bit. Creating a mockumentary style comic is a difficult feat, and it shows. The comic tries to frame the panels in the context of a documentary, with word bubbles appearing from off-screen characters, and the boom microphone dangling in the shots. This goal is accomplished to a degree, but sometimes it just doesn’t work completely due to the nature of the medium, but it is a valiant effort and it works enough in the context of the comic.
Up to this point the story dragged, building upon a weird story of drugs and a popular rock n’ roll band and their groupies. It seemed unfocused, drifting between the main cast of characters (the band) and their wives and girlfriends on a world tour. It gets difficult to relate to any one character and keep track of all of the mayhem between them. The storyline is odd and fairly predictable as we see a band at the peak of their popularity on the verge of crumbling apart. It’s a story that we have seen countless times before, though to This Damned Band’s credit not so much in comic form. The story lost me a bit in the early issues but brought me back in during issue four where a mushroom trip turns into a fun ride through comic history. Artist Tony Parker gets to flex a little as he takes the lead guitarist into a Windsor McCay Little Nemo landscape, and then takes the rest of the band into a Herge inspired mansion. It was unexpected and fun to see a character’s drug induced hallucinations as old comics and a welcome nod to some classics for avid comic fans.
Issue five picks up after a run in with French drug dealers coming to collect, and the band’s tour manager revealing himself as an occult master. Finally some weird black magic stuff goes down, it took long enough. The band goes on to play their last show of the tour, and with several groupies missing there is a sense of unease amongst them. They hire a group of radical occultists to be body guards at the show, and in a direct homage to the Rolling Stones Gimme Shelter documentary where the “Summer of Love” ended in violence, Motherfather’s last show ends similarly. Though instead of a biker stabbing someone, Clive (the band’s founder) reveals himself as Satan. This is really no surprise, but it’s still cool to see him finally drop the shroud. He plans on recording this last show and releasing a live album with its black magic sound enslaving millions of listeners. The entire crowd is meant to be sacrificed to Satan and the band is merely a piece in his plan. The band opposes this sacrifice and are prepared to face whatever comes next.
This is the premise that I was waiting for since issue one. It’s ridiculous, over the top, and totally awesome. Finally This Damned Band plays out like the Faustian, heavy metal, drug-induced roller coaster that it was meant to be. Cornell really turned the volume up all the way for the build-up to the final issue of this wild mini-series.
This Damned Band #5 Writer: Paul Cornell Artist: Tony Parker Colorist: Lovern Kindzierski Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 12/2/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital