Tuesday, November 8, 2016

"I don't know what's worse, Wolff -- when they criticize our work -- or when they ignore it!" A Vampire in Hollywood review

Thanks to Kickstarter, yet another collection of Batton Lash's Supernatural Law comics has been produced: A Vampire in Hollywood. It collects the last few issues of Lash's now-completed Suernatural Law ongoing series, featuring lawyers Alanna Wolff and Jeff Byrd. Lash has indicated this will be the last collection of its type as the series now exists as a webcomic; future collections will be webcomic reprints. Included in the collection is "The Works Speak for Themselves" in which works of art gain the power of speech and begin interpreting themselves; "Werewolves... and the Women Who Love Them" in which a Dr. Phil-style talk show host holds a special episode about lycanthropy; "A Vampire in Hollywood" in which a minor vampire decides to sell his story to Hollywood, much to the irritation of other vampires; "Wolff & Byrd, the Movie" in which one of Wolff & Byrd's friends tries to sell them on a Hollywood adaptation of their lives; "Weird Eye for the Normal Guy" in which Mavis the secretary deals with an ex-con and a trio of not-so-scary ghosts; finally, "People v. Toxic Avenger" is a licensed story featuring the Troma film character Toxic Avenger who needs Wolff & Byrd to clear his reputation in Tromaville.

Once again, these stories grant Lash (and his occasional aides) a chance to mimick the styles of other artists, most notably a letter-perfect imitation of Frank Miller's Sin City in "Wolff & Byrd, the Movie." He even has Art Spiegelman receive criticism from his own Maus work in "The Works Speak for Themselves." Lash also has great fun modeling his characters after famous faces, most obviously in all the Troma people found in "People v. Toxic Avenger" and the aforementioned talk show host in "Werewolves... and the Women Who Love Them," but he also has a ghost who is rather reminiscent of Errol Flynn in "Wolff & Byrd, the Movie."

What makes Supernatural Law so consistently great is how Lash seizes upon familiar tropes and subverts them, usually through the form of litigation (which is not a common solution to problems in fiction). This collection features a woman suing the vampire who bit her, the owners of a haunted house suing the realtor because the ghost wasn't a famous person, and other ghosts sued for being too friendly. Lash's work on the series has slowed down since the ongoing book ended but hopefully there will continue to be an audience for this series for many, many years to come.

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