This Damned Band #1 (Dark Horse)

ThisDamned

CREDIT: Dark Horse

Rating: 4.5/5 – One of the Best Mixtures of Rock n’ Roll and Comics
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Al Sparrow.

There was time, not so long ago, but probably before many of you reading this were born, when music was a dangerous thing. Musicians were wizards of darkness, weaving tales that – if you played the record backwards – would put you in touch with Ol’ Scratch himself. Even the current crop of death metal bands pale in comparison to the bands of yesteryear; they’re simply trying too hard. They’re overselling it. Robert Plant would drag you to hell and you wouldn’t even know you were going. That’s how subtle the dark magic of music was back then.

Sure, I sound old. I am old. And it’s a cliché, no doubt, but things really were different then. It wasn’t easy to become a rock star. Put too much of yourself out there, and suddenly you’re a corrupter of the youth. People are buying your albums just so they can burn them. It’s not like today, where any garage band with an iPad and a dream can put their work out there for millions to hear in the better part of a single day, and being shocking generally is more important than if you’re any good at playing music. No, back then you had to work for it. You had to bleed for it. And in some cases, you might actually have to sell your very soul for it.

Comics that base themselves around rock n’ roll usually turn out pretty lame for a very simple reason: it’s a visual medium trying to encapsulate an auditory one. The few foolish enough to attempt it rarely get it right. If it isn’t some poor writer’s attempt to get their crappy poetry published somewhere, anywhere, it’s an artist who renders the band and their instruments well enough, but forgets to put a bassist on stage with them. Fortunately, Paul Cornell and Tony Parker know what they’re doing here, or seem to, if the excellent first issue of This Damned Band is to be believed.

Motherfather is the subject of a 1974 documentary, complete with all the trappings and decadence that era gave to its rock gods. The inevitable comparison to This Is Spinal Tap will no doubt be noticed by most astute readers, but I caught a heavy Song Remains the Same vibe out of it. Sure, there’s humor to be found here, but there’s an undercurrent of danger that maybe makes the joke a bit darker. Lead singer Justin Parish is the love child of Robert Plant and Roger Daltrey, and it’s likely you’ll have fun trying to figure out who Parker was thinking of as he drew the rest of the band as well – though unlikely any two people will reach the same conclusion.

Cornell’s writing is as all-over-the-place as it needs to be for a story of this nature. Most documentaries tend to linger too long on a scene you’re not particularly invested in, and leave the good stories way before you’re ready for them to end. Whether or not that was intentional on Cornell’s part, it works for this book. You’ll gravitate towards some characters, while others still seem a bit mysterious. It is only the first issue, after all. Parker is creating some of the finest artwork of his career-to-date. It looks like he’s having a good time with it, at any rate. The back pages of the book, showcasing the band’s albums, are a fun touch as well. Motherfather may not be real like Sabbath or the Stones, but you’ll wish they were.

It’s simple. If you love comics and you love rock n’ roll, you’re probably trigger shy about picking this up. Nobody can blame you. We’ve all been burned before by creative teams who think they know what rock n’ roll is all about, only to come up woefully short when the book goes to press. When one of the best examples of mixing rock n’ roll and comics is a Jack Chick tract, you know the dangerous ground Cornell and Parker have chosen to mine. Well, you can rest assured that the saga of Motherfather is in very capable hands. They’re creating a great book here. They get it. One request, though: Is it too much to hope for a 45 to be included in the eventual trade release?

Reviewed by: Al Sparrow
(al@comicspectrum.com
)
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