Saturday, October 22, 2016

Booksteve Reviews: A Vampire in Hollywood by Batton Lash

A VAMPIRE IN HOLLYWOOD is the latest SUPERNATURAL LAW collection from the multi-talented Batton Lash and, as always, it is a pleasant reminder of what drew me to spend my life obsessing on “funnybooks” in the first place.

When I started reading comics, I loved the Silver Age mix of humor and excitement that one got from comics such as METAL MEN, METAMORPHO, or even SPIDER-MAN! In time, comics came to be dark and gritty with little to no genuine character development or humor.

But Batton “gets” it. He groks! More than perhaps any other creator still working in comics today, Batton Lash manages to put a lot of work into his comics while still making them feel effortless. He offers up well-defined characters, a unique setting, enjoyable art and dialogue, self-contained tales but with an ongoing, consistent back story, amusing Easter eggs and in-jokes, and even some positive and uplifting morals about acceptance in our splintered society.

For those of you who have yet to encounter Lash’s protagonists, Alanna Wolff and Jeff Byrd, they are lawyers. Good ones. They specialize, however, in cases involving monsters or the supernatural. This volume, for instance, offers up a vampire trying to make it in pictures, a werewolf on a TV self-help show, some ghosts running a scare school, a warlock who brings art to life...literally, and even Troma’s Toxic Avenger!

The latter is my least favorite, relying as it does on one’s knowledge of a cult figure from several decades back whose popularity just hasn’t carried on as much as it might initially have seemed it would.

My favorite, though, is the warlock and the hexed paintings that take on a life of their own and speak for themselves.

Alanna and Jeff, along with Mavis, the World’s Best Secretary, and a few new hires this time around, become surprising real in the midst of the rest of the unreality that abounds. A fun background story here shows efforts to turn the “real” Wolff and Byrd into fictional characters pigeonholed into the art styles of other comics artists including Frank Miller’s SIN CITY style.

Bottom line? A VAMPIRE IN HOLLYWOOD offered some of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had reading comics in ages. It’s a well-plotted series with good stories, a little drama, a little horror, a little law, and just enough humor to tie everything together in one clever and amusing bundle. 

If you aren’t reading SUPERNATURAL LAW in one form or another, I really don’t want to hear you complain that they aren’t making good comic books these days...because they most certainly ARE!

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