This issue takes a slower and more considered approach than the first two, making it more accessible and my favorite issue so far.
Motherfather is in France, trying to record a new album but are hindered by infighting. While the band is falling apart, the wives and groupies investigate the mansion suspecting it is actually haunted. As the band deals with PTSD from their trip in Japan and the women search for their lost friend, Alex’s gambling debts are now being called in with extreme insistence.
This is an interesting time of release for this issue, as its a ghost story in a mansion released in the middle of October. It reads to me as more thoughtful because of this, with subtle hints of a ghostly presence in the panels without being overt. It somewhat reminds me of the quieter issues of Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol in how the characters deal with supernatural occurrences by arguing with each other.
By focusing on the characters various story arcs, and keeping the documentary crew a consistent presence, the plot is more straightforward and the actual premise of the book shines through.
On art, Parker and Kindzierski keep it moody to play up the ghost story angle. Certain pages switch between far-away POV and close-ups to demonstrate the loneliness that all the characters are feeling. Other pages manage to convey a creepier tone with disturbing drawings done by children, not unlike a scene from Sinister. In fact, there seem to be a handful of possible references to famous horror movies that act as Easter eggs to the readers. Or I could be mistaken and I’m reading too much into it.
Not a lot happened specifically in this issue, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Seeing how the characters were coping with their various problems was entertaining, and the writing didn’t stray too far from that. This has me looking forward to the next issue and what Cornell has planned to wrap up the book.
Rating: Poor, Fair, Good, Great, Excellent
by Paul Cornell, Tony Parker, Lovern Kindzierski
This issue takes something of a left turn from the ending of the previous one. Instead of meeting a demon, it seems each of the band mates had a drug-induced hallucinatory experience. Only a few of them think they met Satan or some other devil.
It’s their various reactions that make the turn interesting, whether it’s outright certainty or various forms of denial. These reactions are the catalyst for the band’s inner turmoil on how to achieve greater fame and who is going to lead them there. This theme is what draws me to the series, the drama of being in a famous band and how/why they break up. For now, it seems the decision to change the upcoming album cover causes a growing rift in the band.
An additional subplot concerning their supply of drugs is introduced, with the band’s growing bill needing to be settled at a fast-approaching date but aside from Alex no one knows about this.
The issue does suffer from a bit too much going on in the story. Keeping track of all the characters is difficult, particularly when someone like the band manager shows up for 2 pages, causes conflict, then disappears. However, I barely remember him from the last issue and so some of the impact of the character’s actions can be lost.
The framing device of the documentary crew filming the band seems to wane in and out of the story, which happens so little I forgot that it was supposed to be happening. The one scene of the band actually playing music in a rehearsal is one silent panel, which in a comic about a rock band feels like a missed opportunity to visually express the awesomeness of sound.
Art-wise the book looks pretty good. Parker’s pencils capture the fashion of the era, and convey character’s expressions and mood very well. Some of the inking on shadows is heavy and can take away from Kindzierski’s pastel colors. Parker emulating different art styles in the beginning pages and his level of detail drawing crowds and scenery make up for some odd design choices.
Overall, the issue reads like a roller-coaster with it following the first issue in ending on a low note despite rising steadily higher at the start. It feels at this point that Cornell is throwing a lot at the reader and unsure what direction the story should take. It’s clear that the band will break up by the end of the story, but instead of justifying that conclusion, the comic seems to be intent on testing suspension of disbelief with all the antics going on. An out of control drug problem, conflicting personalities, hidden secrets, all of these can be used together to build a drama about a rock band. FX’s Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll does this very well, and kind of makes this series pale in comparison with having more potential and not following up on it.
Rating: Poor, Fair, Good, Great, Excellent
by Paul Cornell,Tony Parker, and Lovern Kindzierski
This Damned Band is a hard book to pin down. The tone of it jumps around a bit, but because of that, it becomes hard to put down.
The story follows a highly popular band called Motherfather playing in Tokyo, Japan in 1972. Because of the time period and their popularity, most of them are depicted as utter shitheads. They only care about sleeping with groupies, getting more famous or finding new drugs. At the same time, a documentary crew is trying to film them which adds an interesting angle to the story. Many shows have latched on to the idea of a documentary crew following a group of characters around (for something that is usually never explained or “released”), but I haven’t seen it in comic form before. It causes the band members to adjust their behavior either more dramatically or more candid, relative to each one.
After spending time with each of the band mates, their manager, wives, and fans, the story ends with the band playing a second concert only to experience a shared mushroom trip before meeting what looks like an Oni (Japanese demon).
The artwork by Parker on pencils/inks and Kindzierski on color together gives the feeling of an underground 70s comic, with the art appearing both vibrant but also faded. The characters movements and facial expressions look energetic and genuine, capturing the showmanship of the 70s music scene. The style adds verisimilitude to the story’s setting. Unfortunately, during some character close-ups it can become hard to determine who is in the frame or saying what. Aside from clothing, it sometimes comes down to what style facial hair some had in recognizing them.
As I mentioned the tone is hard to pin down, is this a tongue-in-cheek satire of 70s music, a dark humored drama or some kind of supernatural suspense story? It manages to appear as all three, which is disappointing because I could appreciate any one of them on their own but together none of their strengths really shine. The story could work fine without any mystical elements, but then it might not be a horror story or have the necessary elements to sell. Maybe that’s a meta message behind the book, in what “selling out” does to artists?
In any event, it seems this is the beginning of the end for Motherfather’s rein and the coming issues will likely detail the gory details. I can’t say I’m not interested in seeing them, but I would’ve liked a more grounded emotional drama instead.
Rating: Poor, Fair,Good, Great, Excellent
Each week, the NBC Staff will share various comics we think are worthy to be your pull list. These issues will be picked based upon just how excited we are for them to come out. We dig them and you might too.
Feel free to let us know what YOU think WE should buy in the comment section below.
Please, sir, I want some more…Ukerupp thinks you should try:
After the exciting opening issue
BotA #1 and the beautiful ANXM #16,
I cannot wait for the next installment
of what may end up being my favorite
Marvel event in A LONG time.
Brian Wood has crafted an intriguing
team, and it should be fun to see where
this will go. So, come on. Follow.
When comic runs go south we tend to remember the changes to the characters ala The Clone Saga or One Moment in Time (poor Spiderman) We tend to blame the changes as bad idea’s when in fact I think it’s more on the failure of the creative team then anything else which brings us to Wolverine #1. I already heard people at the LCS complaining about Wolvie not having the healing factor but I don’t think thats the issue here. Paul Cornell’s run on Wolverine has been a decent take on the title that never really went anywhere although decent is like the bare minimum you should do on a title when you have one of the greatest living artist of all time drawing your work as Alan Davis was. But Davis is gone and as good as Stegman was on titles like Scarlet Spider or Superior Spiderman he isn’t good enough to make this issue work and what you end up with is a flat lifeless comic that’s trying to be exciting with it’s premise without having the foundation in the plot or characters to make this work. Say what you will about Superior Spiderman (lord knows I have) but you can’t deny that when that title switched up the chessboard on it’s premise he had something to say about it from issue one going forward. Here it’s Wolverine and a bunch of other dudes doing morally ambiguous activity but theres nothing to connect the reader. Cornell’s script and dialogue is just blah. It doesn’t suck it’s just there. Stegman just isn’t bringing anything to the table here either in spite of his best efforts. It’s essentially idea’s without anything interesting to engage them to the story. It’s one thing to be bad but it’s a whole other thing to be boring which is what this is. That’s just a waste of time and with all the strong material out there I don’t have any more to give this.