13 February 2008

Things You Might Enjoy, If You Enjoy This Sort Of Thing--Episode Two

The Last Temptation
Neil Gaiman and Michael Zulli
based on a story by Neil Gaiman and Alice Cooper

I found this a couple of days ago, at the same store where I found, to my sorrow, the Essential Dazzler. And, appropriately enough to the story's content, I didn't find it in the main room of the comic shop. No, I found it in the basement, in a mildly creepy little room filled with boxes of back issues and ancient model kits and a lit glass case full of outdated collectibles. According to Amazon it's still in print, but on the "Other Books by Neil Gaiman" list in the back of my copy, it mentions American Gods as "coming Summer 2001." It cost me ten dollars plus tax, and possibly a little bit of my soul, though I can't really judge that at the moment.

Anyway, I bought it, and then later when my boyfriend and I were driving to GameStop, he said to me, "So, you bought an Alice Cooper comic?" Not really with derision--we both know that Neil Gaiman's a great author regardless, and Alice Cooper is actually pretty cool--but with curiousity. Because of course there's this lovely tradition of rocker vanity projects, like...well, for example, any comic starring the members of Kiss. So I was mildly apprehensive, but not too much.

And it's a great story.

I mean, it's not the best I've read. Certainly not the best work of Neil Gaiman's that I've read; it's a bit too straightforward for that. But it's a really cool comic to have. It's about a boy named Steven, who's scared of lots of things, and who meets a Showman who runs a theatre and looks a lot like Alice Cooper. The Showman gives him a free ticket to the theatre, and shows him some rather terrifying things, and then makes him an enticing offer, one that could change his life.

Join up. Be part of the show. Be young forever. Everyone wants that. Right?

I will not provide details.

It's beautifully written, and I imagine it's a great companion to the album, which I haven't heard, although now I'd really like to. Steven's a likable kid. And besides the writing, it's also beautifully drawn--by Michael Zulli, in fact, one of my favorite comics artists because he makes everything beautiful, even zombies. Everything's lovely, and a few panels in particular were really weirdly compelling. My copy, at least, has this odd brownish tint instead of straight black and white, which is interesting, but I don't know whether it's deliberate or a consequence of aging slowly in a dark basement. And the lettering is by Todd Klein, who did a lot of the lettering on Sandman, so even that's cool.

The Last Temptation is a comic worth finding, particularly if you can find it in some weird place like I did. I'm not saying you should hunt it down with a crazy passion, but if you come across it, pick it up and read at least a few pages. Drop the ten bucks for a copy; it's worth at least that much. It's not a complicated story. It probably won't shock you that much. But it is really good.

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