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Monday, July 30, 2007


During my travails as a graphic novel reviewer for Publisher's Weekly magazine I'm usually buried beneath mountains of shit that I wouldn't use to wrap fish, but every now and then my efforts are rewarded by having a truly fun book I would otherwise never have heard of fall into my lap. Such a book is Oni Press' BLACK METAL VOLUME 1.

Heavy Metal is a rock ’n’ roll genre known for its guitar-worship/masturbation (yeah, I'm talkin' about YOU, Yngwie Malmsteen; "I Am A Viking?" Nigga, please...), bombast and pomposity serving to fuel young men’s fantasies of heroism and machismo, sometimes involving elder gods, their amoral mythologies, and their inevitable return. In other words a subject ripe for lampooning, and this graphic novel just may be the funniest take on the clich├ęs of the genre to come along since THIS IS SPINAL TAP.

Upon playing a Frost Axe LP backwards, black-clad metalhead twins Shawn and Sam — who look like the bastard tweener sons of King Diamond — discover their true arcane heritage, obtain the mythic Sword of Atoll and embark on a mission to conquer Hell itself.

Demons, dark lords, Norse deities (accurately portrayed for a change), a black metal band that goes out of their way to practice what they preach, armies of the damned and even Satan himself all turn up and provide fodder for hilarity that wouldn’t stand a chance in Hell of being endorsed by the Church. Cartoon mayhem of the most entertaining order, BLACK METAL comes highly recommended and ends much too soon, leaving the reader foaming at the mouth, hands upright and flashing “the horns,” anxiously awaiting the next installment. Creators Rick Spears and Chuck BB obviously get this shit and their understanding of the whole Metal ethos lends the skewering an informed brilliance, instead of what could have been a lazy stab made by a couple of know-nothing douchebags. Great work, dudes.

No bullshit, this is the perfect book to read while listening to Mercyful Fate's DON'T BREAK THE OATH, and a higher compliment I would be hard pressed to give. And it's even appropriate for the 10-and-ups, so become the bad influence your kids/nieces/nephews/younger siblings need and get them a copy. It's in stores on August 8th, so TRUST YER BUNCHE!!!


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