Last month the longstanding Heavy Metal magazine published it’s landmark 300th issue. I’ll admit up front, I’m not a regular reader of this magazine, I picked it up for one reason, and one reason only, because it features a new original story written by one of my favorite writers, BLAKE NORTHCOTT!
SYNAPSE is an 8-page story with art by Giuseppe Cafaro, who previously collaborated with Blake on ASPEN VISIONS Vol. 1 #1: Soulfire: Heart of Eternity, and colors by Bryan Valenza (misspelled as Bryan Alvarez in the comic – oops). With the short length of the story, I can’t say too much without spoiling it. But it’s a sci-fi tale, set in Toronto a couple of hundred years in the future. Our protagonist is a woman named Annika and through first-person narration, Blake sets up the world that this story takes place in. A deadly airborne virus has killed millions of people and forced most of the surviving population to quarantine themselves indoors and only go outside wearing masks (can you imagine the horror?). This has naturally devastated the economy, and forced many people to do desperate things for money. Someone close to Annika has signed up for a potentially deadly experiment being run by an unscrupulous corporation, and Annika has armed herself with high-tech armor and weapons and plans to storm the building to stop them before it’s too late.
This is a concise and entertaining story with some beautiful artwork, and a neat little twist ending that you won’t see coming. It was worth the price of the whole magazine, in my opinion. Chacebook rating: FIVE STARS
Of course, this issue features a lot more than that. There are about 16 other short stories by different creative teams in various genres, mostly sci-fi or horror. With a variety of art styles, I think it’s safe to say there’s something for everyone in here (note: several stories, including SYNAPSE, include nudity, so this is a magazine for adults). I’m too lazy to review the entire content, but I will single out 4 other stories that stood out to me as favorites, and are likewise worthy of my highest rating:
Written by Justin Jordan and drawn by Kelley Jones. This 7-page horror story takes place in the aftermath of World War II. A Japanese-American woman named Anka has hired a group of mercenaries to sail her to a hidden island that her brother, who was a soldier in the U.S. Air Force and had been shot down at sea and barely survived landing on that island. Anka is eager to learn what really happened there, while the mercenaries only care about what possible treasures they might find there. The story does a good job of capturing the mood of the time, as despite being the boss on this escapade, the men (all WHite) clearly hate her because she’s Japanese. And when they do discover what’s really hidden on the island, it’s quite terrifying. And Kelly Jones’ art is perfect for this story. I’ve been a fan of his since his days drawing Batman.
Written and drawn by…Tater 7 (that’s what it says). This 8-page story is a steampunk/Mad Max-ish take on the classic Moby Dick story. I can’t really explain it better than that. But it’s pretty cool.
SUNPOT: “DR. ELECTRIC MEETS DA REPO MAN”
Mark Bode writes and draws this 6-page sci-fi story which is based on the cult underground comic Sunpot, created by his father Vaughn Bode. For a better explanation of this comic than I could prove, click HERE
AT THE END OF THE DAY…
Written and drawn by Duke Mighten
This 10-page story is basically a superhero tale, but set in a futuristic possibly alien setting. A superhero, or “Godling”, known publicly as “Sensation” got into a reckless fight with some villain, while under the influence of drugs and alcohol, and the resulting carnage has killed thousands. Sensation retreats to his secret HQ to reflect on his actions. It’s…deep.
As I said, there’s something for everyone here. If the publishers of this magazine can continue to attract this level of talent, then I’m sure it won’t have any trouble lasting another 300 issues.
Categories: BLAKE NORTHCOTT