By: Rob Liefeld and Mark Poulton (story), Mark Poulton (script), Owen Gieni (art and colors)

The Story – Devil in the Flesh, Part 1 of 3: A psycho is stalking New York and we get to watch him work. A pornstar/stripper named Heaven Starr with a reputation for heavy drug use has a sudden loss of memory and is tossed out of the club she is working. She can’t remember anything and on the way home, more than just New York muggers are waiting for her.

What’s Good: Visually, Gieni gave this book a strong opening. The snowflakes falling on New York soften and whiten a land that needs cleansing, perfectly setting the metaphorical tone for the book. His characters are stylized and exaggerated (check out Torment in his orange sweater-vest), but attractive and expressive. Fear, confusion, artificial and genuine smiles, and anger clearly tell the story while action sequences effectively move the story forward. The dialogue was, at times interesting and unexpected, like when the muggers go after Heaven.

What’s Not So Good: I think that the character work fell down in this book. I didn’t feel that much effort was put into making me like Heaven Starr, unless I’m supposed to automatically be sympathetic to amnesiac pornstar/strippers, in which case, that might be a sign that I’m not the target demographic for this book. Sympathetic characters want something so bad that they move heaven and earth to overcome obstacles to achieve it. I see that Liefeld and Poulton were going for the “memory-lost-hero” situation, but that archetype long ago became a cliché and that creative choice didn’t pay off. The mystery to be revealed isn’t big enough and Starr’s dazed wandering was uninspiring. And speaking of dazed, I think maybe she was on drugs, because she had no emotional reaction to anything in the book. She didn’t do more than rub her head when she found herself without memory; she beat the crap out of some possessed muggers and just took one of their coats; she beat up a “loved one” and had no reaction either. Very difficult to buy into a character like that and I think these creative choices might sink this series launch.

Conclusion: An clay-footed story with some attractive art. Don’t bother.

Grade: D+

-DS Arsenault

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