It’s hard to guess what’s going to take place in a GWAR comic book; the band is renowned for their amazing live performances, with brilliant staging, profound theatrics, and balls-to-the-wall humor. Thankfully, this first issue takes those themes and uses the medium to REALLY go bananas.
The first panel basically sets the stage for how nuts things are going to get here:
And it’s really a perfect opening for a book like this – Jonathan Brandon Sawyer’s work is tight, and really captures the frenetic grotesque action sequences: there’s something innately magical about watching the showers of blood and guts. Each member of GWAR is physically imposing, whether it’s against pushy audience members, alien minions, or British revolutionaries (the second-best panel of the book features Beefcake the Mighty ramming a bayonetted rifle up an officer’s ass and firing nonchalantly).
The main story really balances the breakneck pace with the hyper violence with clever wordplay and brings back the fate of former band leader Oderus “Dave Brockie” Gurungus. Gurungus passed away in real life in 2014 of a heroin overdose, so having his passing in the fictitious world of GWAR defined as an act worthy of retribution is a really great legacy. It was a great nod to the history of the band by writer Matt Miner.
Miner took on co-writing duties with GWAR’s own Matt Maguire, and they tell an engaging and fun story that lets the band’s characters really soar. Maguire, the stage manager for arguably one of the most entertaining (and messy) live shows still touring, also writes and illustrates the second story, which features a crazed and skinless former policeman. It’s a short, insane little story, and the art is welcome here, like a piece from your favorite zine.
Probably my favorite part of the book is the final story, expertly written by Miner, and brought to life by none other than friend of the Court, Scott Wygmans! Wygmans brings his trademark heavy inks and metal imagery to the story of Slymestra Hymen and Estrogina Lugubrious commanding slaves to serve their whim. Wygmans’ slaves are big and monstrous, but they pale in comparison to his furious Slymenstra. It’s a story that’s both funny and kinda frightening, and Miner, Maguire, and especially Wygmans really hit a subtle homer.
To top things off, we have to mention the incredible journey this book has had: It started from a Kickstarter that Miner put together, gaining followers and buzz and eventually surpassing the end goal by nearly $7,000. A love letter to the band, Dynamite Entertainment got wind of the project and eventually approached Matt and the GWAR crew and came to an agreement to publish the book. It's an incredible opportunity for the gang, and it's well deserved.
Reading GWAR’s newest comic venture is a catharsis, a full embracing of over-the-top absurdity the band specializes in. Miner does a fantastic job of pacing the hypnotic ultra-gross to keep the story interesting throughout, Maguire injects the gonzo attitude of GWAR itself, Sawyer’s precise linework captures the spirit of the band, and Wygmans’ artistry captures the soul. If you’re a fan of the band or a fan of gross-out humor and copious violence, this is absolutely the book for you.