Thursday, July 5, 2012

Review: Black Church

Children of the Damned

My review of Andy Belanger's Black Church is up at Comics Bulletin. I like the way this review turned out and I hope that my writing corrupts you enough, constant reader, to put some cash in Belanger's pocket. I believe that supporting self-published, creator-owned (natch) work like Black Church is the ultimate act in 'voting with your wallet.' As I continue to develop this ethos (Dude, at least it's an ethos) about creator-owned work, I'm beginning to wonder about how buying self-published work direct from the creator(s) and backing Kickstarter projects squares down at the ol' LCS. Another post for another time.  

I started out a Metalhead. As I was writing about Black Church and revisiting (reliving) the things I love about Metal, I remembered a time that, in a fit of pique, I burned a bunch of Thor comic books in a sand quarry behind my parent's house. Why I decided to burn those comics -- I remember a few of them being Simonson's Surtur Saga, so is that irony or coincidence? -- instead of throwing them in the trash (nobody recycled back then) remains a journey into mystery, but that's what I did. Maybe even then I didn't like mainstream publishers. I kid, I kid. It was around 1986 and I was beginning to develop my own taste in music. I was listening to the radio and, of course, watching as much MTV as I could. I'll spare you all the details about why I torched The Mighty Thor, other than to say, that as a young Roman Catholic and an altar boy, I thought a lot about Satan … a lot.     

Satan was easy to find in the 1980's. The big 'D' Devil was practically a franchise; and Satan was quite the polymath when it came to pop culture. TV shows, books, games and movies were all Satan's thrall, but where the 'Morning Star' burned brightest was in recording studios and record stores. The PMRC was coming into its ascendency and Blackie Lawless was about to become a household name.

What got me to strike a match and burn the 'God of Thunder' (besides ignorance and stupidity) was a two-night presentation (our parents had to sign permission slips to allow us to attend) at my middle school about the pervasiveness of Satan in popular culture. The guy who came to talk to us wasn't some fire and brimstone preacher. He was dynamic, I'm sure, but this was (for all intents and purposes) a school function and not a tent revival; and we were Catholics, after all, and you can't have Catholicism without Old Scratch.

Looking back on it now, it was little more than a power point lecture except back in the day we called those slide shows. Basically, what happened was I got my first taste of mass hysteria and (yes) mob rule. I'm glad this guy didn't hand out Dixie cups of Kool-aid and ask us to join him in the Kingdom of Heaven because it would have been bottom's up. The school was a mess the next day, nobody could concentrate and all anyone wanted to talk about was Satan, Ouija boards and what they threw out when they got home last night.

I guess I felt I had to play my part in the salvage mission for my soul by fighting fire with fire (again Surtur) and make a burnt offering to God. How pagan is that? ANYWAY! Once the hysteria wore off I went straight for the loudest and most satanic music I could find, Iron Maiden. My musical tastes have expanded since then, although I still love mid-80's Maiden and always will. Cynicism (I suppose) has turned Satanism into a marketing strategy, even children of the damned gotta' eat. In this case, maybe ignorance is bliss, there's something exciting about thinking that reading a comic book or listening to a certain kind of music is a dangerous and subversive act and maybe it still is … maybe.  \m/

7/6 7 PM EST  Belanger confirmed in a DM on Twitter: 'The title of the next chapter [of Black Church] is called the 'Mad Priest!' It's going to be dripping with evil sermons.'  Pray for us! is where you can lose your mortal soul and get your own copy of Black Church.

and here's the link to the review on Comic's Bulletin:


  1. Long live Surtur!

    And very interesting musings on first issues.

    By the way, I read your post about Mind the Gap and I really liked it. I reviewed the first issue here:


  2. Arion,

    Thanks for the Surtur love, he's(?) a fiery guy and his passions burn bright! And thanks for the kind words on #1's and Mind the Gap. I checked up your MtG review and I liked it a lot. I agree that that series is at its best when it's in its 'Lacanian' in-between-worlds. I'd like to see more of the 'garden' and less of the 'real world' which I find is heavy on drama and light on stakes.

    1. Yes, the 'garden' reality is much more interesting. I'm really glad to hear you enjoyed my review.

      I have decided I can't miss your future posts so as of now I'm officially following your blog, hopefully you'll do the same.