Heavy Metal #286 Review

The Mag!c Special

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Featuring an ‘epic article’ on chaos magic from the editor in chief, Grant Morrison. How could you not pick up an issue with that cover?… 

Atomahawk: Chapter Three– Donny Cates & Ian Bederman
The plot of Atomahawk is increasingly balls to the wall crazy. The action is intense with plenty of profanity to couple with the violence. Imagine Sci-Fi mixed with Fantasy set to the tone of Doom. It’s pretty fun. For me the art is the stand out. Bederman takes the silly concept and transforms it into a gallery. Each page gets more chaotic yet the panels get more structured. This structure compliments the plot nicely. A fun read.

The Sword of God – Edgar Clément
One of the standouts of the issue. The art evolves throughout the story, starting like an illustrated short story before evolving into a common comic strip. I can’t say much about the plot. A man is paid to steal a sword. The art (like with most Heavy Metal stories) is what makes this shine. Clément’s ability to transform the human body is both beautiful and grotesque. I recommend you check this story out, there’s some turns in the story that might leave you uncomfortable.

Herald – Diego Grebol & Sebastián Piriz
For a magic special issue, this may seem like a basic sci-fi story at first glance but if you stick with it you’ll see how Grebol and Piriz use magic to make you reconsider what is human and what is automated. I enjoyed this shorter story. Again the art is beautiful. The closing pages of this story are worthy of being framed. A fun and short, thought provoking story.

The Smile of the Absent Cat: Chapter Two: Lost to the World of Light – Grant Morrison & Gerhard
The most Grant Morrison series I’ve read in a while. A Victorian English Noir drama set in a world where people are cats and have names like “Algernon Pussyfoot.” It’s great. Thematically it reminds me of Morrison’s Nameless. There’s lots of Us vs. Them. The muted colours from Gerhard help establish the murky noir vibe. I can’t tell if it’s meant to be serious or nonsense but that’s part of the fun for me. Just go with it and let’s see where it takes us.

The Color of Air: Part Three – Enik Bilal
There’s not much I can say for this one. I couldn’t get into this series when it started so I haven’t been following it. Again I didn’t really read this part.

Beyond the Word and the Fool – Grant Morrison (illustrated by David Stoupakis)
This is the section advertised on the cover. Morrison’s ‘epic article’ on chaos magic. I had a fun time reading this. I’m interested in chaos magic and the likes, and I’m a Morrison fan so this fits my interests pretty well. I feel Morrison wrote it well enough not to play into the demographic of ‘me’ however. The tone is quite amusing and he only slightly takes the piss so anyone could get into it. It does feel a little like every other ‘guide to chaos magic’ that pops up in magazines. I’d recommend ‘Pop Magic’ over this, but Morrison does that too at the end of the article. Additionally the illustrations are gorgeous.

A Magician and The Wooden Boy – Z. Pahek
Possibly the most magic inspired story in the issue. It fits right in with the short twist stories of Heavy Metal and 2000AD past. It’s fun and short. Pahek is clearly a talented artist, signing each page like the work of art it is. That’s not to say the plot isn’t good. There is the slightest hint at social commentary here and it blends nicely with the realistic art stlye.

Frank Frazetta: Reign of Wizardry – Frank Frazetta, Jr.
A nice article about Frank Frazetta’s artwork, written by his son. Despite the content of the artwork it’s actually quite a wholesome article.

The 1,000 Deaths of Harry Houdini – Neil Kleid, Michael Avon Oeming & Taki Soma
Another strong magical tale. I’m always a fan of takin real characters or events from history and fictioning them up. I love the cartoony nature of the artwork and feel it lends itself quite nicely to the daftness of the idea that Houdini did a deal with the Devil. It works well.

Lil Charlie: Part Three – John Bivens & Omar Estévez
Lil Charlie might be my favourite ongoing series in Heavy Metal right now. The goofiness mixed with the nihilism makes some great humour. The depiction of God here is so Lovecraftian and unsettling it might drive some readers off from the cuteness of the previous instalments. Hopefully it doesn’t because this is another standout part of this issue. The dry humour is highly entertaining.

Ars Goetia: Demonic Tarot – Jim Pavelec
An engaging art gallery piece. Interesting artwork centred around the tarot deck.

Air – Diego Agrimbau & Martin Tunica
Short and Sweet. The relevance this story has with certain climate change policies is pretty intense. It’s an alright little story for what it is but it could do with more. I admire the message but there isn’t much more for me.

Zentropa – John Mahoney
This has been one of the more interesting series over the past issues. For the first time the story is accompanied by a short column giving the reader some exposition on the series. Honestly, without this I would never have ‘understood’ the series. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t enjoy it. Taken purely as art I’ve liked every instalment with this one proving to be the least complex. I’m looking forward to seeing more from Mahoney.

Clive Barker interview by Rantz Hoseley
Fantastic interview with Barker about magic in the 21st century. The accompanying gallery of Barker’s paintings is also wonderful. It leads well into the final story which was inspired by one of Barker’s paintings.

Lighting the Way – Mark Alan Miller, Christian Francis, Ben Meares, Gonzalo Ruggieri & Omar Estévez
This feels the most like a 2000AD future shock out of all the stories this issue. The art’s a little messy for me but I’ll let it go this time since it compliments both the story and Barker’s painting. I love all of the plot. I prefer stories like these to those like Zentropa. Not sure what that says about me but hey ho.

Overall this was a pretty good issue of Heavy Metal. It’s not for everyone so I could recommend it as coffee table reading for lay comic book readers and I could recommend it for sci-fi and fantasy fans that can’t get into what the Big Three put out monthly.

Recommendation: pick up – if – you need a coffee table magazine – or – you’re a big sci-fi and fantasy fan/ have an interest in magic.

Author: Alex

I review comics and books. I also take issue with a lot of things.

2 thoughts on “Heavy Metal #286 Review”

  1. Been meaning to check this out again since Morrison took over, but wondering if the book had changed significantly enough for me to bother.

    “The most Grant Morrison series I’ve read in a while. A Victorian English Noir drama set in a world where people are cats and have names like “Algernon Pussyfoot.”” That just sold me on it though.

    Liked by 1 person

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