Years ago, taking a comic book with you out in public was a sure-fire way to invite criticism and shame from a fairly large percentage of average adults. Sure, if you’re a kid or early teen it was fine, but should you try to do it as someone in their early 20s or, Odin forbid, your middle 30s”¦ it was like you were somehow dropping a deuce in the Wheaties of the great literary minds. Surely Poe or Hemingway themselves would show up, throw a bag over your head, toss you in the back of a van, and torture you for enjoying something other than one of “the great works” (which BTW I’m pretty sure actually happened one time in Key West).
Those days, thankfully, are gone. Yesterday I decided to venture out into the world and bring along a few issues so that I could enjoy them while drinking a large cup of coffee. Not a frapathingy or a mochawhatsit, but coffee. Simple ol’ coffee-flavored coffee, as Denis Leary puts it. In my backpack I put a few issues that I’ve been meaning to read and one of those was Grindhouse: Doors Open At Midnight #6. In hindsight, that may have been a faux pax and I would rather have taken the hood/van/car battery to my nipples scenario.
So, I find a nice coffee shop and mistakenly think I’ll be able to sit back, relax, and enjoy the latest release in the Grindhouse series. Our story here is following a young woman named Brawyn whose wedding day goes off in the way all of us fear it would. Bloodshed, rape, murder of her family, and a shitty DJ who plays “The Chicken Dance” at the most inopportune moment. All of that happens (well except the chicken dance part) in fantastic detail in issue #5. If you haven’t read that yet, go grab it because these books are a lovely guilty pleasure and no one should be without.
Anyway, back to our little tale here. I’m standing in line at said coffee shop, and as most of us drones do these days, I step forward, alternating between staring at the sign with 15 million coffee options on it and my phone so I am completely unprepared for what happens when I hit the front of the line. Standing there, ready to take my order, my money, and my heart is the standard issue “Coffee Shop Hot Barista Girl.” Specifically the blonde with pink streaks in her hair model. I stumble through my order and am informed I can have a seat and she will bring it out to me. My heart sings with glee! She will come to me!! Oh yes, she shall!! I’m sure that at this point I float in Bugs Bunny style over to one of the large overstuffed chairs in the corner and await my coffee delivery from the Angel of Caffeination.
Now, unbeknownst to me, this is the SOP for this joint, so I’m going to be waiting a short while. In the mean time, I reach into my bag and pull out anything in the hopes that the action will nullify me staring at this girl (which it doesn’t) and grab Grindhouse #6. I put it in my lap, open it up and continue to eye hump this poor girl for all I’m worth. Between noting her “Conflict Free” T-shirt and her PETA wrist band I thumb through the pages of the issue and am slowly drawn back into the world of Bride of Blood.
Alex Decampi has put together a nice two-part story here. It’s fast-moving and offers up all the goodies you expect from a Grindhouse comic, but let’s be honest here”¦ it ain’t gonna win any awards for complexity or depth. BUT that’s OK! This is a Grindhouse comic! It’s what we expect! It’s nice to see a story that doesn’t take place on a stretch of desert highway or at a cabin in the woods as much of the genre does. It is a period piece that gives us some good old-fashioned beheadings, sword fighting, and bloody mutilations.
My problem with this issue is that, unfortunately, it was predictable. I saw the end coming a mile away, but it didn’t detract from me enjoying the book. Frederica Manfredi has done a superb job on illustrating this story in ways that not only stay true to reality in their depictions but also push the envelope of blood, guts, and gore. There is a panel in particular that’s going to stay with me for a while, and that’s one where a soldier is ripped apart by the Hunting Party’s dogs. The level of detail in this panel is one that I’m excited to see more of in the future from Frederica, but it also shows that death can happen anytime and not always from the protagonist themselves. It also happens to be the exact panel I was taking notes on when Hot Blonde Barista approaches for my 2nd refill. She leans over to pour hot coffee from the pot she’s carrying around, and just as she gets into view of the image she also gets a shot of my notes, written in the scrawling style of a 3rd grader.
-Dog violence: good!
-Blood and gore- realistic/well done
-girl not in scene, murder anyway
Now, I’ve repulsed women before. It’s nothing new to any man short of Brad Pitt, but the look of disgust and horror on this poor girl’s face will now be forever associated with the dog mauling scene from Grindhouse #6. She doesn’t speak, hell she barely makes a sound as she backs away, never taking her eyes off of my note pad. In those few seconds I watched our future together get poured down the drain like an incorrectly made soy caramel machiato (no whip) as she quickly walks to the back room. From the depths of the shop emerges a very large man with a beard, leather wrist bands, and a noticeably absent neck. I was completely unaware that coffee shops had bouncers, but apparently this one does. I was informed that I was never to come back to this establishment. Ever.