Published on April 13th, 2016 | by JCDoyle0
Hot Damn #1 Review
As a setting for a story, Hell has been used a vast number of times; from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman to J Michael Straczynski’s Ten Grand, it has been a popular destination. This means that Ryan Ferrier has a lot of work to do make his Hell stand out in his new comic Hot Damn.
The story starts in a Las Vegas style city with two characters in a sponsorship program but this has nothing to do with drugs or alcohol, well maybe it does a little bit. Costello is a demon social worker and his latest charge, Teddy, doesn’t appear to be adapting to his new after life very well. He seems a little bewildered and almost in denial about his situation.
At Penance therapy run by Abaddon, a goat faced demon, Teddy shares the life of excess that led to his current situation, however he continues to distance himself from the group. In attempt to breath a bit of life back into him Costello breaks a few rules and takes Teddy on an out of body/possession experience. Things don’t quite work out as planned and the little excursion is noticed by all the wrong people.
The initial concept is fascinating if not wholly original. The satirical nature of the Hell that Ferrier has created is entertaining and produces a number of good gags. It does however owe a lot to the afterlife from Tim Burton’s Bettlejuice; the bureaucracy logged, counselling led society is a jarring commentary on the modern world.
Unfortunately the social metaphors are not enough to cover the clichéd characters, even the suave and super cool Devil is an old idea that has been worked and reworked almost to death. The deep, soul searching voice over script doesn’t gel with the rest of the narrative and this has the effect of breaking up the pace of the comic.
In an attempt to fill the gaps in the narrative Valentin Ramon’s panels are packed to the rafters with all manner of mutilated extras and obscure demons. His backgrounds are highly detailed with a mass of cultural references, for example the Teletubbies plays on the T.V. in the background of the therapy room or the selection of various brand named alcohol bottles that accompanies Teddy’s last days on Earth.
It’s Ramon’s art work that carries the reader through Hot Damn and keeps your interest. Without his twisted view points and collection of non-speaking background characters, there would be little to keep you going. The central characters aren’t especially endearing, perhaps because they’re too clichéd to be exciting or it may be because their actions are motiveless. The most interesting character is the goat headed councillor Abaddon but even he seems like a watered down version of Lorne for the Angel T.V. series.
Hot Damn tries hard to be outstanding but its reach is beyond its grasp in this first issue. Worth picking up to see the wonderfully demonic artwork but don’t expect to be ‘souled’ on the narrative.
Title: Hot Damn
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Ryan Ferrier
Artist: Valentin Ramon