Schnepp, Jon (Writer)
Repentless (Book review)
Released: 2017, Dark Horse Comics
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), Kiss (2013), Slayer (2016) and Judas Priest (2017). Please feel free to enjoy all the reviews in this feature.
Due to a collection of personal circumstances, which I will not go into here, I don’t watch videos on the computer. Accordingly, when a band films a video it barely registers on my conscious. I’d much rather listen to music and read books than watch stuff on-line. Imagine my surprise when I learned that Slayer actually filmed three videos for REPENTLESS! Who knew? Not me, that is for sure. Why is this relevant? When I bought and started to read this comic, the first page says, ‘Watch the video trilogy at Slayer.net in the sequence; ‘Repentless’, “You Against You’ and “Pride In Prejudice”. So the whole comic REPENTLESS, are based on the videos. That is a neat concept. Of course I had to go watch the videos.
REPENTLESS has been issued in a hard cover collecting the three issues. Published by Dark Horse, it is a nicely presented, and is about 100 pages long, and about 80 of those pages are the actual comics so there is some extra materiaI. I did not buy the original stand alone versions so I do not know if this is new bonus material for the collected edition or not. Each comic covers one song in the trilogy and is preceded by the lyrics. The bonus stuff is a Gallery including video stills, sketches, pictures of the band, biographies of the writers and illustrators. It is interesting to see how this labour of love all came together.
Thee story itself is a fairly simple Cain and Able revenge story, brother vs. brother, one good one evil. It set in the modern day US It’s pretty dark, grim and explicitly violent, as you would expect any good Slayer themed comic to be! It's ultra violent as a matter of fact! Slayer is in the comic appearing as themselves, but not really featured prominently until the third issue. I’m glad they weren’t the focus in some over-the-top way like ‘Slayer as super-heroes’ (ala Kiss comics) they are just some biker dudes caught up in the tough situation. Of course the dialogue is massively laced with Slayer lyrics, so it could be considered a depressing read by some! The art is dark, lots of red and darker tones which match the mood of the story. The plot and pace are decent and it draws you in, in a simpler action-movie ind of way. I really liked it.
The overall quality, presentation and feel of this project is top-notch. It is certainly not cartoony and does not feel forced. I’m glad I grabbed this for my library. Unlike some of the sillier on off comics crossovers, I will re-read this one more often.