If you ask me, Hell hasn’t been explored nearly enough in fiction. I’m a big Sandman Slim fan, but that’s a book. What about visual mediums? I guess costs skyrocket when you have to fill it with messed up images and on top of that I assume some Christian organizations would be a bit perturbed by a Hell-centric film. So why not comics!? I check out a new one set in Hell from IDW, but is it good?
Hot Damn #1 (IDW Publishing)
So what is this? The IDW solicit reads:
The masterminds of D4VE (full review of that here) reunite with HOT DAMN, and they’re taking you straight to Hell. Hard living catches up to Teddy, and eternal damnation awaits—but it’s nothing like the good book tells you. Hell is a therapy session you can never leave…
Why does this book matter?
This isn’t just a comic about any old average Hell, but one that’s deeply original. In many ways it feels like world building as Ryan Ferrier and Valentin Ramon have created their version of Hell. It’s filled with annoying people, disgusting food, and corporate mentalities. So basically it’s the real world, just more demented.
Hell is therapy. Literally.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
The protagonist who narrates this tale is named Teddy Graham and he has a hard time talking about his feelings. It seems he’s stuck in a level of Hell due to his inability to open up and thus feel the guilt and pain the Devil and his demons need him to feel to get the most torture out of his new existence. We witness a day in the life of Teddy and along the way meet his social worker, his therapist, and see a decent amount of Hell too. The character is easy to relate to because his existence is about as mundane as most lives are, but most importantly he’s unable to admit to what he did wrong.
Meanwhile the world is vivid, imaginative and a lot of fun. Ferrier and Ramon have created a world just as detailed as their D4VE series, with lots of neat elements in backgrounds and interesting references thrown in too. You get a sense how things work, but not enough to completely bore you. They serve toothpaste and horse semen at bars, but also allow people to eat whatever they want (though it’s pretty disgusting). The issue doesn’t spend all its time in Hell though and we get a quick taste of Heaven too. The issue does a fantastic job realizing this new look of the age-old realms and it’s wild to explore them.
The art by Ramon is very detailed and easy to follow. You can tell Ramon spent a lot of time getting panels right considering the details thrown in around the characters. You’ll also appreciate the funny references like a, I think, Miley Cyrus appearance, and a McDonald’s reference too. It’s very inventive and worth a look just to see what Ramon could stuff in all the panels.
It can’t be perfect can it?
There’s a story element that sets Teddy on a whole new adventure that takes him away from Hell and that came as a disappointment largely because I didn’t want to leave Hell! It serves the plot and gets the gears going – and really you should appreciate plot development so early – but it’s almost as if there wasn’t enough explored in an average day in Hell. It’s a relatively minor quibble though, that I think most people won’t even agree on.
So what happens to him?
Is It Good?
A fun read that makes Hell a vivid and imaginative world you’ll want to explore.