At this point, that unease that lingers after reading a story written by Paul Cornell should be to be expected. And yet, even in comic book form, I am reluctant to even write about the fourth issue of This Damned Band for fear of provoking any supernatural activity. Here’s the rub: Cornell doesn’t waggle his words to jump a scare into you or douse your mind with buckets of bloody gore. It’s more like walking with a pleasant friend into a cemetery with a quaint history of resurrection, which you don’t recall until you’re surrounded by the darkness.
The subtle unease has been escalating at quite at a constant pace. The previous issue seemed to have derailed from the supernatural tracks and onto typical rock band troubles. The expensive drug habit of the one the band members had finally caught up to them at the Chateau. There have been hints of something mysterious happening such as children drawing dark figures or some of the groupies disappearing. It isn’t until this issue that there is no question about it. The band is not just high, there is something dark and horrible going on.
Now the question is, what were the exact terms of this relationship? It was hinted that the bands relationship with the devil may have stemmed from a chess game that was not finished. The band obviously achieved mega fame status but what do they give up in return? No one in the group seems to be terribly interested in compassion or love, so my guess is their humanity.
The comic continues its seemingly impossible task of a documentary format within comic book panels. Although this issue, the fourth wall is broken as the camera crew begins to fear for their own lives. The camera rolls on and they were able to capture some interesting dark stuff. The part of the issue that was “rendered by an artist based off of accounts” is pretty awesome. The art during this part takes on a children’s cartoon aesthetic and dilutes the suspense of that part. The comic is not censoring the reader at all from the horror however. In a typical Cornell fashion, the horror aspect will be showcased in all of it’s glory.
You can tell the artist, Tony Parker, has had alot of fun creating these panels. The bright colors, cartoonish panels, and goofy dialogue does not ease the foreboding atmosphere of the comic. Through all of these antics, there is a constant dread as the reader waits for the something horrific to occur. If it’s anything like his book, London Falling, then it’s all going to happen in a maelstrom of crazy. It definitely is starting to head in that direction with the band beginning to acknowledge that things are not as rock and roll as they seem nor are they even in control.
If there was ever a desire for a comic that compelled you to keep asking “What the??!” or “What is going on?!” or even unconsciously start muttering “Uh-oh” repeatedly, then This Damned Band will be sure to interest you. Especially for this fearful reviewer who still runs the opposite direction from anyone dressed up as Freddy, this comic book is so worth the unease. Plus, Cornell is a great storyteller and I am will unabashedly follow his stories. Even if it leads me to a Chateau in France with scary stuff that reminds of House on Haunted Hill except with Satan aspect.
This Damned Band #4 is available at your local comic book retailer.