Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 8:39 a.m.
Hell is different things to different people. For me, it's trying to juggle--unsuccessfully, I might add--blogging, a recent move and a new full-time job.
The same idea applies in comic books. Creators love to send characters to Hell for all variety of reasons, and almost everyone of those trips shows Hell in a unique, deplorable, disgusting way.
Last week, writer Jason Aaron and artist Renato Guedes kicked off a new Wolverine series (with the original and snappy title of Wolverine
#1) by sending the feral mutant's soul to Hell but leaving his possessed body to wreak all types of havoc (not that Havok
) on Earth. And what does Satan/the Devil/Lucifer/Tim Curry-from-Legend
lookalike want with Wolvie's soul? Apparently, he just wants to have a little fun and play with it.
Given Hell's ubiquity in comics, I came up with a collection of some of my favorite visits to the netherworld. Check them out after the jump and feel free to suggest your own entries.
1. Morpheus visits to fight Lucifer (The Sandman #21-28)
Vertigo/Kelley Jones and Malcolm Jones III
My biggest cultural influences in high school: Mystery Science Theater 3000, GoodFellas and Neil Gaiman's Sandman. At the time, one of my favorite story arcs was Season of Mists, where Morpheus is cajoled by sister/brother Desire into going to Hell to free Nada, a lover he banished there after she spurned him. The Lord of Dreams, expecting trouble from Lucifer, prepares for a battle he doesn't expect to win. But what he finds is the biggest anti-climax of all time: A fed-up Lucifer who instead of fighting forks over the key of hell to Morpheus. Kelley Jones's art was a perfect match for a story full of demons, demiurges and decisions.
DC Comics/Stephen Bissette and John Totleben
Being a magician and worshipping a snake god
probably makes it easy for a writer like Alan Moore to imagine what the nether realms are like*. And thanks to the brilliant artistry of Stephen Bissette and John Totleben, the Hell that Swamp Thing visits is disturbing, horrific and, at times, darkly humorous.
3. Jack Chick comics
One might consider the existence of these hateful, ultra-religious, ultra-right-leaning tracts as a sign that, indeed, Hell--a Hell of any kind--exists. You might've come across these small pamphlets in any major city or college campus. They come with varied titles such as The Poor Revolutionary, The Demon Nightmare and The Empty Tomb, but the content is pretty much the same for all of them: Unless you accept Jesus as your personal savior, you're going to Hell. And by the way, here's what Hell looks like. Enjoy! Praise Jesus!
4. Dr. Doom sends Franklin Richards to Hell (Fantastic Four (vol. 2) #66-70, (vol. 1) #500**)
Marvel Comics/Mike Wieringo
When you've been a bad guy as long as Dr. Doom, every once and a while you have to show that you're one bad motherfucker. Especially when your plans constantly get foiled by everyone from Spider-Man to Luke Cage. So what does Doom do to step it up? Why, he sends Reed Richards' son to Hell while also "possessing" his daughter. Reed and the rest of the Fantastic Four battle to rescue Franklin and stop Doom's evil plans. Writer Mark Waid and artist the late Mike Wieringo create a dark, terrifying tale that also stays true to the core concept of the FF.
5. John Constantine makes a deal with Blathoxi (Hellblazer #3)
DC Comics/John Ridgway and Alfredo Alcala
Hellblazer is known for its graphic depictions of nasty demons and devils and their nasty deeds. That's why it might seem a bit unusual that I'm picking a rather sedate peek into Hell as part of this list. But there's just something so wonderfully 1980s about a fat hellspawn sitting in a demonic sauna, trading in human souls and trying to get Margaret Thatcher elected.
HONORABLE MENTION: The hellish Heaven of Preacher
This one comes from a friend of the column (OK, my Twitter
friend) Genevieve Gallagher
, who suggested any depictions of Hell written by Garth Ennis. In particular, she put the spotlight on his Preacher
series. We both agreed, though, that Heaven in that book is much more hellish--with its conniving, scheming, murderous angels and a God who's a big douche--than his Hell ever is.
Other comics to check out this (and last) week
Amazing Spider-Man #641 The final installment of the story arc that explains what happens when you make a magical deal with a Satan stand-in to end your marriage to a supermodel/actress in order to save the life of your elderly aunt and make it so writers can have you fucking a laundry list of other women even though you're supposed to be some geeky schlub. Of course, if you're not interested in that story, Amazing Spider-Man #642 is out the same day, which has nothing to do with marriages and magical deals.
Daytripper #10 The final issue of this vastly underrated mini-series by brothers Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon. Beautifully drawn and written. Pick up the back issues.
Stumptown #4 Greg Rucka wraps up the first volume of his private eye series, which basically asks: What if Jim Rockford was a chick? And I'm not saying that like it's a bad thing.
Thor: Mighty Avenger #4 Writer Roger Langridge and artist Chris Samnee are putting out the best Thor comic on the stands. Hell, they're writing one of the best superhero comics on the stands. You won't be disappointed.
The Wild Kingdom Kevin Huizenga is one of the most innovative young cartoonists currently working. His new hardcover featuring his everyman character Glenn Gagnes will keep you engrossed and entertained.
*To be fair, Moore wrote this issue of Swamp Thing before he was worshipping Glycon.