Satanic Hell, Vol. 1
Written by Grigoris Douros
Art by Kevin Enhart with Newel Anderson
Colors by Jimmy Kerast
Letters by E.T. Dollman
Covers by Kevin Enhart, Jimmy Kerast
Release Date: March 23, 2016
Cover Price: $9.99
I want to be forthright here, I only chose to review this comic because I thought the title was the verbal equivalent to exhibitionism. With a title like Satanic Hell, Vol. 1, your expectations are pretty narrowed. The fact that it was based in Texas? Well, that was just icing on the proverbial cake since I live in the Lone Star State, too.
The story is about a time in the not too distant future where things in Texas have gotten so bad that the local and state governments have been privatized. And in Texas, the wealthiest folks also happen to be the clergy. With millions of followers tithing weekly and having diversified their financial holdings, the fundamentalist churches in Texas found themselves able to actually purchase the rights to govern the entire state. having taken that bold step, they began to change laws and rules, ensuring that their ways were the only legal ways. Free will is a thing of the past, people are rated according to their attendance of religious services. In effect, the idea was to create a heaven on earth. Unfortunately, even heaven has a dark side.
Our protagonists are the three members of the band Satanic Hell. With audacious name such as Exodus, Death Priest, and Dante, our touring metalheads are a prime target for the unforgiving apostles of this “New World Order” imposed by the Texas Council Of Churches. And trust me, I’m only touching ever so lightly upon the craziness that permeates itself through this story. I could wax poetic on the trials and tribulations that our theatrical musicians suffer through in the two hundred pages of this graphic novel. Granted, they are far from innocent but the lengths that their enemies would go to just to stop them from playing is horrifying.
Texas is, by and large, an absurdly conservative state. But the lengths to which the story polarizes it is ludicrous. Organized religion is demonized in such a way that even a casual reader will find themselves bewildered at the sheer animosity in this comic. I am unsure if it’s intentional in order to gain some notoriety or if it is a byproduct of the writer’s angst and frustration. Either way, I found it both hilarious and disturbing in equal parts. The mockery goes far beyond satire, straying heavily into a distortion of the truth. While there are some religious zealots who find it necessary to picket funerals and slander the good names of our citizens, there are far more that attempt to help their fellow man in the ways they see best. But again, this is a caricature of the world as seen through the eyes of our friendly little death metal band.
Looking back, maybe the point here is to force us to take a look at a possible scenario that, if given the perfect storm of events, could actually happen. But probably won’t. Stripping away the contemptuous feelings that flow through this graphic novel will leave you with a funny little story about a band with minimal skill but a flair for theatrics. It’s about their road to stardom and the nearly literal sacrifice of their humanity to attain it.
Writer Grigoris Douros does a magnificent job of keeping the reader entertained, be it through fear or humor. His blasphemous dialogue will probably get his name cursed more than a few times but I bet he’s okay with that. Teaming up with artists Kevin Enhart, Newel Anderson, and Jimmy Kerast allows him to bring his vision to life (or death, whichever you prefer). The art is gritty, simple, and almost drab at times. I constantly felt the panels only had art in them to take up the space where the text was not. The faces of the characters are dark and deeply lined, giving them a sense of hopelessness that simple line drawings could never have depicted. So, where I was first disappointed in the art, I began to see it for what it was: a delivery system for the story. Rendered in only the most basic form, it forces the reader deeper into the storytelling. It’s a little rough but it’s definitely serviceable.
I won’t even begin to recommend this to anyone. I will simply say that if the title or premise intrigues you, go for it. This will have a very limited demographic, as most religious people will find it intensely offensive. Now, having said that, I would not hesitate to read another in the series. Looking past the irreverence, I found a fun tale inside. It’s a self-contained story, compiling all seven of the original issues into one volume. So that’s it, enjoy it or hate it, I doubt there is much middle ground to be found.