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This Damned Band

This Damned Band #1
Writer: Paul Cornell
Artist: Tony Parker
Dark Horse Comics

As Paul Cornell writes in the letters page of the first part of his new six-issue horror comedy series, there was a bizarre period of rock and roll in the 1970’s where it was cool to worship Satan. His book is a Spinal Tap-style mockumentary following provocative occult rockers Motherfather on their Love Hate World Tour 1972. Though the band members have generally laughed about the mysticism that fuels their branding, after an experience with Japanese mushrooms, the guys stagger offstage to find they have somehow summoned Satan to their dressing room.

I am not a fan of Paul Cornell’s work at Marvel. It’s charming but not usually as funny or interesting as the Internet tells me it is. This book, however, pulled me in. It’s focused, creative, and textured. The band members don’t get much individual screen time but still establish some individuality, be that the oversexed bass player, the steady drum player, or the sweet lead singer who keeps forgetting to stay in character on camera. The plot lovingly skewers the chemical and sexual excesses of the rock scene without wallowing in gratuitous nudity. The groupies are represented as respectable women who could help the band if the boys would just heed their spiritual warnings, and sinister manager Mr. Browley steals the issue with a two-page monologue blending intellectual British sentence construction and a slew of delightful profanity (including defense of the guitarist as “someone who has had their liver, spleen, and penis insured by Lloyd’s of London for such sums that injury to those parts would cause an enormous gilded bell to be run in their head office”).

I am not sure how adding Satan to the mix is going to affect the story, but based on the strength of this first issue, I’m signing on for the rest of the tour. Head on down to Ultimate Comics in Chapel Hill or the new Raleigh location to pick up a copy!

Matt Conner For Ultimate Comics & NC Comicon