The Story: A pile of outstanding artists you may not have ever heard of compile a collection of short stories where pretty much anything goes.

What’s Good: Do you like anthologies?  Do you like creator-owned comics?  Do you enjoy discovering new stuff before the next person?  They you really should be checking out Heavy Metal magazine.  At a $6.95 cover price, you get ~80 pages of comics running across 8 separate stories.  It’s all different and unique and slightly more adult than what you could find in a Marvel or DC comic.  That’s Heavy Metal magazine, coming out ~6 times per year.

Now, although the cover does proclaim it as the “World’s Foremost Adult Illustrated Magazine”, that does not mean that there is full-on XXX action or anything like that.  It is a R-rated movie level of adultness (whereas Marvel/DC are probably PG13).  What it does is allow the artist to be a little more open to telling their stories.

The star for this issue came right off the bat with a story called “Forms of Death” by Alessio Landi (writer) and Luca Claretti (art) that features a futuristic female special forces agent infiltrating the enemy’s secret base to destroy their latest androids, but finding more than she bargained for.  It has a very Blade Runner vibe and shows the heroine as the three-dimensional character.  There is also a wonderful short-story called “Strain” by Ibai Canales (writer & artist) about a weird futuristic disease where the a virus not only infects its host, but becomes self-aware and knows that it needs to spread because the current host is dying (from the virus).  Cool, huh?

Even though I didn’t love the major story in this issue (~20 pages), which is part of a multi-part story called “Requiem” because it was all a little too demonic for me, I did love Oliver Ledroit’s art.  Holy detailed and beautiful with incredibly imaginative designs for all these demonic beasties.

What’s Not So Good: Well, there is that “adult” word on the cover and that means that you might get a raised eyebrow from the significant other when you leave this laying around the house.  You kinda have to open it and say, “It’s not porn!  Look, nothing but demons in here!”

It also is very much an anthology.  I know that a lot of people don’t love anthologies and if you’re in that camp, you should probably just stay away because with the variety of subject matter in an issue of Heavy Metal, I guarantee that there will be something you do not like.  It really comes down to whether you are the type of person who can read 8 short stories and remember the 2 that were glorious or whether you fixate on the 2 that were just weird and boring.  If you’re the latter type of comic fan, you’re not going to have much fun.

There are also lots of ads for cheesecake-type pin-up art books.  For as much as I enjoy that art form when it guest-stars in my comics, I can’t even begin to imagine paying $19.99 to order a book of that stuff.  It’s just not for me and the mere presence of the ads kinda weird me out a little bit.

Conclusion: I honestly don’t know why anyone who reads “indie” or creator-owned comics a lot wouldn’t have a subscription to this.  The financial commitment isn’t too great (~$20 if you subscribe at home) for 6 issues/year of interesting material that’ll expose you to some really off-the wall subject matter.  This issue is a perfect example with some of its really cool little stories.  I can’t give the highest grade just because I wasn’t (personally) grooving on the main story, even if I did love the art.

Grade: B

– Dean Stell