Friday, March 22, 2013

Supernatural Law week, day 5: the best of Supernatural Law

This week I seem to have apppointed myself an expert on Batton Lash's Supernatural Law... so I must have some favourite stories from the series, right? Indeed, there are four tales which I think are the best of the best. Each is available at Exhibit A.

"The Littlest Loup Garou" (found in Soddyssey) features artist Wallace Kneet, a man whose "loup garou" paintings are a sensation. However, Kneet's wife claims to be the true artist behind these works, forcing Kneet to defend himself in court. However, Kneet's paintings are the result of a terrible curse tied to the full moon. This tale at first heads to a conclusion you might have anticipated - then pulls out a neat surprise which changes how the story reads on subsequent visits. The overblown dime novel-style narration is also a treat. "Many moons will pass before this case will rest..."

"Personal Injuries... & Guardian Angels" (also found in Soddyssey) features Benjamin, a guardian angel who looks a lot like Jack Benny (real name: Benjamin Kubelsky; he's being sued by his client Dennis McNulty, who looks a lot like Jack's colleague Dennis Day (real name: Dennis McNulty). If you aren't familiar with Jack Benny, your appreciation for this tale might possibly be nil. It's packed to the gills with references to Benny, including characters based on Frank Nelson & Mel Blanc and Benjamin's behaviour is modeled on Jack's, from his catch phrases ("Now cut that out!"), humming "Love in Bloom" and breaking the fourth wall to glare at the audience. If you know your Benny cast of characters well, then you'll easily "hear" Jack, Dennis, Mel & Frank in your head as you read the story.

"The Death and Times of 'Dr. Life'" (found in Sonovawitch!) was one of the first stories I read; in a take-off on Dr. Jack Kevorkian, one Dr. Bakaleivagin starts reanimating the dead, which has all manner of unforseen legal complications. Can you get a "do not resurrect" order on your corpse? Like many of Lash's best tales, it performs a simple twist on a familiar idea, then mines the riches.

"Griswell's Demon" (found in Tales From the Vault: an Anniversary Special) was inked by Steve Ditko himself. Lash's skill as a Ditko imitator is such that at first glance, you might not even realize Ditko touched the page! It's a brief tale involving a sorcerer who conjures a demon to perform his dirty work, but doesn't reckon with Wolff & Byrd's legal resources.

And this marks the end of my week-long look at Supernatural Law. If anything I've shared has encouraged you to give the series a first look - or a second look - then it was well worth it.

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