Hot Damn #1
Written by: Ryan Ferrier
Illustrated by: Valentin Ramon
What a great, quirky little book. Yet another book over the past month that just has superb art. I’m not sure where all of these great artists are that are coming out of the woodwork, but something has occurred to increase the supply of great image creators in the pipeline. My only detraction is the panels are busy. I mean really busy. Either really long word balloons, or just so much detail that I spent a lot of time trying to pick out every little joke in each panel. That is, admittedly part of the book’s charm, but it does slow one down a bit when reading. It’s a small nitpick but there it is.
Hot Damn is the story of Heaven and Hell depicted with a corporate twist. It’s definitely deconstructionist, with a comical bend. In this version of mythology, Heaven and Hell really aren’t at war. It’s a bit more like Google and Apple, but with a symbiotic relationship. Angels and demons know each other, and their offices often touch base to make sure one knows what the other is doing so that there are no misunderstandings. Teddy was a not too upstanding dude in life. Not a murderer or anything, but a coke head. He OD’d and left behind his fiance and now he’s serving out his sentence for all eternity in hell.
There are so many little tchotchkies in this story that it just sucks you in. This is world-building at its best. Teddy has a sponsor named Costello. He has to be up at 4AM to go to group therapy with the therapy demon Abadon. Costello takes Teddy on a possession, which has a lore all its own. They take a flesh-bag for a test drive, and while co-piloting the normal, they run into Teddy’s fiance. The trip gets them busted and upon return they are arrested. There are scenes with Hell Central Control, Angels discussing relations with Costello and his rep, an Angel who is not in the social center, and smoking weed within the pearly gates. As you try to get your head situated in what this world is, you lose yourself and become immersed in this new universe. It’s great story-telling with a healthy heap of the disgusting and coarse, as you might imagine a story primarily set in hell would be.
That story-telling credit goes just as much to Ramon’s panels as to Ferrier’s writing. Ramon has a LOT of work to do here. His approach is not to just leave you off to believe that hell is a horrible place, he has to show you. That is done with intricately detailed backdrops of the world around Teddy and Costello. There are often dozens of characters on screen, each involved in their own horror. Comical horror. Ramon reaches into what must be a comically twisted macabre imagination. It’s wonderful.
Hot Damn #1 is far and away distant from your typical comic, even for a horror comic. This story has legs. Infinite legs if focusing on Teddy is just an arc and not the ongoing theme for the entire run, as swapping out the imprisoned and their sponsor in a sort of religious horror buddy comedy could go on forever. I’m looking forward to seeing just how far this series will go. It’s off to a great start. Ferrier could have made the mistake that I’ve seen in many recent launches of new series from the big two, in that those issues have been all setup and NOTHING HAPPENS. But Ferrier and Ramon get you moving with a good drum beat and have left themselves a comfortable amount of room to throttle up or down. Wonderful work gentlemen. More. Please