COMIC REVIEW: BLACK KISS – XXXmas in July Special (Image)

When Black Kiss first appeared in the late eighties, Howard Chaykin’s mini-series about a murderous Bonnie and pre-Op Clyde duo caused a stir of controversy given the graphic and explicit nature of the comic.

The darkly penciled chaotic pages blurred the line between what many considered little more than pornographic indulgence but that others regarded as the modern revival of the hard-broiled noir. It was a legacy that some critics and fans credit with imparting a style from whom mainstream authors like Frank Miller and his Sin City franchise seem a more palpable offspring.

Every bit a morality play similar to the lessons ripped from the Bible and told in the Middle Ages, Chaykin’s modern ‘prequel’ to his ‘80’s series of the same name, Black Kiss 2, sounds the opening choir of his tale about an immortal vampire and her Hollywood exploits.

Continuing on the murderous rampage of this revival, the one-shot Black Kiss: XXXmas in July Special (Image Comics) once again goes into the bowels of an origins story every bit as subversive as the original and incipient series.

Turning on its head the whole idea of a vulnerable damsel in distress out to be rescued by chivalrous knights in shinning armor, instead Chaykin’s Black Kiss nights are filled with traumatizing and terrifying men whose not so subtle desires are anything but chivalrous.

The questionable heroines of the comics are anything but helpless damsels, instead given enormous power so often stripped of them in your typical fable. A vampire and her constantly replaceable body-doubled male-to-female companion extract all manner of arguably justifiable destructive romps through the lives of various evil, if successful or at the very least infamous men.

And as much as they use their devilish powers, it’s the perceived weaknesses of sex and temptation in males, long the lament of female subjugation that proves in each case the ultimate undoing of each villainous figure.

And much like the face-hugging xenomorphs of Ridley Scott’s Giger-envisioned Alien, another ‘80’s icon, Black Kiss continues to tempt its male consumers with the not so subtle horrific consequences of sexual assault.

Counter culture at its graphic finest, with targets ranging from a lascivious televangelist to Members of the Ku Klux Klan or embodied by the glittering stores along Fifth Avenue the graphic follows in the footsteps of other feminist critiques of Americana such as films like The Accused or the infamous and controversial I Spit on Your Grave.

With Black Kiss: XXXmas in July Special Chaykin, who inks, pencils and writes the issue and whose other works include American Flagg (Image) and Century West(Image), once again sets out to design a dark-hearted revenge story whose victims are the male psyche and the American sensibility about power and success. And once again he does this, perhaps regrettably so, rather well.

Rating: 4/5
GS Blogger: Jesse B

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