Published on February 1st, 2013 | by Andrew Porwitzky0
Heavy Metal Poisoning: Anita Bomba book 1
I recently started looking into the American comic magazine Heavy Metal, which began publication in 1977 as an Americanized version of the French “Métal Hurlant.” Originally it published English translations of the French stories, but eventually developed into something its own. The publication has a reputation in the USA of being basically an erotica comic, hence the reason I avoided it for so long. Once I started looking into it I discovered that it is really a treasure trove of comic gems. Yes, there are books that are basically boobs and little else, but I think part of the reason for that is that Heavy Metal is an anthology/publisher of artist’s comics. When you read Heavy Metal comics you are doing so for the art first and the writing second. Of course, the story must be there or what’s the point? I’m not really interested in Baywatch in comic book form. However I view comics as many people view movies: I love a complex well written story like Shawshank Redemption, but sometimes I want to watch Shoot ‘Em Up. I contend that both are brilliant movies for very different reasons. They each have their place, and just because I may enjoy comics with lots of boob shots and gratuitous violence doesn’t mean that’s all I look for in a comic, and isn’t even what I always want to see in comics.
As I dive into the world of Heavy Metal I thought I’d invite you along to share the journey with me. There will be fine art. There will be violence. There (hopefully) will be plot. And yes, oh yes, there will be boobs.
First up is book one of Anita Bomba, titled “As Far As I Can Remember…” with illustration by Cromwell and text by Eric Gratien. (Notice how the artists name is first in the credits? That seems typical of Heavy Metal.)
Book one literally starts off his a bang as we see the immediate fallout from one of Anita’s bank jobs along with her unlucky cohorts.
Anita Bomba is a member of that breed of free spirited thieves that we love to read about. When she needs assistance on a job she hires some men. Men who usually end up in prison, missing limbs, or dead. The latter two due to her propensity for explosives. Given the refusal of any fellow thieves to work with Anita she decides to steal a robot to serve as a partner in crime. Initially unknown to her this particular robot has multiple personalities, and it is upon this point that a comedy of errors results bringing us the plot.
The book one hardcover clocks in at 44 pages of magazine format full color art, and the art is what this book is about. The storytelling has an unusual reliance on words though. There are times when what should be a few panels of art are instead simply described. Given that this primarily happens toward the end of the book I think its a problem of available space. However, the “panels” that are narrated are not necessary to the overall plot, so you don’t really feel like anything critical is missing. Personally, I’m a fan of compressed storytelling in comics, so I can accept this, but it is still a little jaring.
The artwork is very Ian Gibson-esque to me, which means I love it. The characters have real motion and some of the panels almost come alive.
As far as the writing goes the narrative style is interesting and sometimes fourth wall breaking. All in all its a weird little story, which is the type of thing I’ve quickly come to expect from Heavy Metal.
Lets go to my Heavy Metal Poisoning Checklist! (Patent Pending)
Art: Excellent. Top notch in my book.
Story: Alright. Seems a bit wandering at times and makes a few narrative jumps, but overall okay.
Boobs: The main character is a cutie with healthy cleavage throughout. She appears naked in three panels, satisfying expectations. Throughout, but not gratuitous.
Wacky Factor: Quirky. Definitely not a main stream comic, and definitely has an underground feel to it.
Value for Money: Excellent if you buy from Heavy Metal. Book one alone is priced at $12.95, which is ludicrous. However, through the Heavy Metal website you can get the Cromwell/Anita Bomba Collection which contains books 1-4 plus the Cromwell art book (which is lavish) for $20. Really, this is a no-brainer. They offer international shipping on their website, but beware that all these books are hardcover, so shipping may get you.
So far I’m enjoying my jaunt into the wacky world of Heavy Metal. I find the stories to be quick reads that are nice to unwind over. Grab a pint, put your feet up, and enjoy some Heavy Metal.