§ April 20th, 2004 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on

Hi! God has commanded me to review another book from the AiT/Planetlar box of love, and this time it’s…

Doll And Creature by Rick Remender, John Heebink, and Mike Manley! The world of the future has fully embraced the goth culture into its pop aesthetic, treating ugly things as beautiful and vice versa, people undergoing “monstrification” surgery, broadcasting zombie and vampire TV shows, banning religion, et al. In this world, a very dangerous drug called Grey Matter has hit the streets…and a few unfortunates who take this drug unexpectedly turn into “Hydes,” murderous monsters that maim and kill.

Enter Gristle, a Frankenstein’s Monster-type feller whose sole purpose is to stop the Hydes, though his partner Modo insists that Gristle kill the Grey Matter addicts before they turn into Hydes…a notion Gristle resists. Into the mix comes the doubly-ironically-nicknamed Doll…so named because, while to our eyes she is a beautiful woman, she is unattractive by the standards of the world in which she lives. She ends up joining Gristle and Modo in their battle against the Grey Matter drug…and the mysterious power seeking to control the Hydes that result.

Now, I really wanted to like this comic much more than I did. Not to say I didn’t enjoy it…it’s amusingly written, well drawn, and the action sequences are well laid out. This feels as if it wants to be in the same vein (har har) as Hellboy, The Goon and Mr. Monster, where the heroes are just as unusual and grotesque as the villains but…well, I can’t quite put my finger on it. I think Doll And Creature is just a little too verbose of a comic. Like Hellboy, Gristle is very much a down-to-earth blue-collar kind of monster-fighter, prone to being blunt in his speech and direct in his actions, but the rest of the characters in this comic just don’t know when to keep their mouths shut. There’s a lot of expositional speech going on…it’s a minor flaw, but it still sort of annoys when it feels like everything is being explained to you.

A lot of work is put into establishing the unusual setting of this story. As noted, gothiness (“gothiness?”) rules this world, established in the lament of the “Seven Helleven” employee on the very first page: “Doom and gloom on every channel. Everything is vampire-this and deadgirl-that. A rack full of magazines, and every one is the exact same! …Chicks that dress like monsters, self-imporant dudes in leather skirts, and dark poetry in no short supply!” Even the television news reporters are done up like Morticia Addams, signing off their broadcasts with “Life will tear us apart.” It’s a fairly elaborate set-up that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but one that allows characters to dress up as sexy mummy-girls (as our heroine Doll does) without having to come up with an excuse to put them in ridiculous costumes.

Also, I should probably note the excellent cover by Dan Brereton…the Halloween-y orangish color scheme should give the casual onlooker an idea of what to expect within, if the ’50s-greaser-monster and the mummy girl weren’t hint enough.

Overall, despite my slight misgivings with the dialogue, I did enjoy this graphic novel, and wouldn’t mind seeing more. Perhaps it would work better as a monthly comic, where time and the shorter installments might work out some of the storytelling kinks. Fans of the similarly-themed Hellboy and Goon comics would probably most enjoy this book.

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