The members of KISS poured their real blood into the first printing of their 1970s Marvel comic. What can the world’s most violent, well-known thrash band do to top that? Slayer: Repentless #1 is finally here. Is it good?
Slayer: Repentless #1 (Dark Horse Comics)
Sometimes, racists aren’t born, they’re made. And whatever’s broken can be fixed again. Well, half of it. The other half will feel betrayed, hunt you down and kill everyone you care about. Death is overdue! Nothing can save you!
But wait, Manny knows some guys! Does Slayer really just hang around in biker bars listening to their own music? Wouldn’t you?!
Is It Good?
While there’s no word the red ink in Slayer: Repentless #1 contains actual blood, there sure is a lot of it spilled over this issue. This is a gory, violent journey intentionally reminiscent of the 30-year strong extreme metal pioneers’ recent music videos. Metalocalypse producer and character designer Jon Schnepp unsurprisingly pens a cogent and convincing story that pushes narrative through the mayhem.
Slayer: Repentless would be a fine example of a gritty, issue-laden crime book … if it just stuck to that. Shoehorning in a dozen song lyric Easter eggs, as is done later in the issue, diminishes the severity of the situation and elicits more eye rolls and groans than fist pumps and horns. Entertainers riding in to the save the day might work in a book with a lighter tone, but trying to split the difference and include corporate recording stars in your anti-racism parable just doesn’t click.
Artist Guiu Vilanova and colorist Mauricio Wallace do a brutally good job of directing the action in Slayer: Repentless #1. The figures are drawn realistically and a prison riot with no dialogue is rendered in harsh-angled panels, in contrast to the more traditional layouts that precede and follow it. The colors are understated and serve to enhance the tone, rather than dictating it.
Slayer: Repentless #1 is the beginning and end of two different, better books sandwiched together to make something less satisfying than either. What starts as a thought-provoking crime drama ends as a record advertisement–either of which could be a fine story in their own right, but are noticeably incongruous together. Do you want clean singing in your Cannibal Corpse? Or growls in your Manowar? Then don’t combine genres here, either! \m/