Published on August 7th, 2015 | by JCDoyle0
This Damned Band #1 Review
In his short text piece at the back of This Damned Band, Paul Cornell worries that his work is too close to Spinal Tap and it is easy to see why that may be the case. If you wanted an easy label for this comic ‘Spinal Tap with added demon worship’ could easily fit. But that would do an injustice to the work that has gone into This Damned Band. Firstly to Cornell’s writing and secondly to the design and illustration work by Tony Parker.
The story is presented in the form of a Rockumentary about a 1970’s glam metal band called Motherfather, It starts balls deep in their world tour; Japan 1974. The band and their roles are introduced and they are shown to be at the top of their game, riding the fame wave and surfing Rock Legend status. The audience are screaming, the groupies are devoted and the manager gives them exactly what they want, well, he busts other people’s balls until they give the band what they want, but that’s almost the same thing. I’m reminded of a gag from Wayne’s World 2 where a roadie tells a story regarding Ozzy Osborne and an M&M rider. The story is ridiculous and spirals into madness but this just makes it more believable. And that is what This Damned Band is like. The humour is dark and in some places subtle with the overall effect being quite outlandish but nothing that would seem out of place in a David Bowie documentation.
The band itself is made up of classic archetypal Rock legends. There is; the over confident, self-obsessed, over sexed bassist (Alex); the spaced out, talented but distant guitarist (Kev); A drummer who appears to be Rock ‘n’ Roll all over but is actually straight laced; and of course a lead singer who’s on stage persona is exuberant and over the top but beneath he is carful and controlled. There is also a hint at a band member who passed away. Has this been thrown is as a reference to certain famous bands and their fragile past or is it relevant to the future plot? I think the latter but either way it adds depth to the narrative.
And depth is something this comic has in spades. There are music and historical analogies, character driven relationships, reoccurring symbolism and a very strong, surprisingly large, cast of characters.
Paul Cornell has worked on many titles in a host of genres and about the only thing that connects his work is the importance of character. Whether he’s writing Doctor Who, Superman or his creator owned, political sci-fi Saucer Country, the characters define his work.
Back to the story. The band play a sell-out gig, everybody is happy except their manager who fights for the bands rider to be honoured in full; I mean how can a party hard rock star survive back stage without a pony? The documentary style allows all the players to be introduced in a staged but logical way. The wives and groupies prove to be a diverse and intriguing group. At first they appear to be on the edge of this madcap world but at times it feels like they are the calm at the centre of the storm. And what a storm it turns out to be, everything from a prediction of ‘The End of All Things’ to a drug induced hallucination and then the twist in the tale, the moment the story has been expertly aiming towards.
Everything seemed so believable until that final page and not even the Cohen Brothers with a ‘Based on a true story’ caption could make anyone accept this as real life. But it works and, damn it, it all makes perfect sense.
I don’t want to spoil it but narratively speaking, Cornell turns it up to 11.
With artwork that is bursting with nostalgia and captures the period superbly and an unrelenting tongue in cheek story, This Damned Band is a pleasure to read but don’t take it too seriously. After all, it’s only Rock and Roll.
Title: This Damned Band
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Paul Cornell
Artist: Tony Parker