Reviewed: October 2017
Released: 1997, Chaos Comics
A collection of three short comics based on the lyrics of Megadeth. Issue #1
Comics and Hard Rock (and later Heavy Metal) have always been a natural pairing. From as far back as the 70’s with Kiss and Alice Cooper up to much more recent comic/band cross-over series (ie. GWAR and the forthcoming Iron Maiden comic) comics and graphic novels have been a cool and fun way to expand the cultural impact of Metal music. Bands that have a wide range in styles such as Evergrey to Jungle Rot to Rob Zombie have all produced comics of some fashion. This month I’m taking a look at a few of these Metal-themed comics, Alice Cooper (1979), Megadeth (1997), Hammerfall (2002), Thor (2011), Slayer (2016) and Judas Priest (2017). Please feel free to enjoy all the reviews in this feature.
Megadeth was approached by Chaos Comics (based in Arizona I believe) about the tie-in potential because, according to a brief essay inside of the comic, many of the staff were fans of Megadeth. This is not surprising as the band was still huge back in the 90’s. This is issue #1. The whole concept is one of a collection of short pieces based on the lyrics of Megadeth. The series was slated to run quarterly for a year.
Issue #1 of Cryptic Writings was fortunately not based on the album CRYPTIC WRITINGS or CRAPTIC WRITINGS as I so kindly refer to it as. However that was the tour that this comic was tied into. The three stories are all pulled from the bands 1985 debut, KILLING IS MY BUSINESS…AND BUSINESS IS GOOD. Three songs, ‘Skull Beneath The Skin’, ‘Rattlehead’ and ‘Looking Down The Cross’, were selected to be interpreted by different artists and writers. Dave Mustaine gave the project his blessing and the end result is pretty cool. Each story is big, bright and bold, dark imagery al over the place, lots of fire, blood and steel. I really enjoyed the origin story of Vic Rattlehead’ in the story, ‘Skull Beneath The Skin’. ‘Rattlehead has a bit more of a modern element, a story of mosh-pit at a Metal concert gone very wrong and the body count rises. Lastly, ‘Looking down The Cross’ has a strong religious imagery all the way through , giving us a glimpse into Mustaines mind perhaps, channeled through his lyrics that Christianity (good and bad) that was very much a topic that gave him inspiration. This comic is definitely not for kids.
For the record there is also a limited pressing (9999 copies) of a black leather-bound tour edition. This happens to be the version I have, with the nice, silver embossed cover. These days it will probably cost you about $50.00 to find. The regular back-issues are floating around at a decent price. It is hard to think that this came out already a decade ago but it still holds up as a great example of a Metal themed comic that can stand the test of time.