Leave Your Spandex At The Door 1.25.03: Vertigo Pop! London

Hello and welcome to the third weekly installment of Leave Your Spandex @t the Door!

A small note before we get into this week’s column: I spotted an interesting motif this month: a strange tendency from the writers’ part to have the title character die in a violent way (or threatened by death, or badly injured) in the issue’s last page. I’m going to go on record as the first one to slap a name on this and call it…

-Drum roll-

…the Mortis Climax Tactic (doesn’t it have a nice pseudo-scientific ring to it?)

Titles suffering from MCT this month include: Vertigo Pop: London #3, Captain Marvel #4, Paradigm #3, Catwoman #14, Sandman presents:Bast #1, Fables#9, Sojourn#17, X-StatiX#6, Hulk#49. Pas mal du tout…

I’ll look through each of these titles in future weeks and I’ll discuss how obsessed with death comics have become recently with some surprise guests next week. More on that in the end of the column…

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This week I’ll be looking at one of the titles that really made their mark in my mind last year. Peter Milligan and Philip Bond’s rock n’ roll take on Faust:

Vertigo Pop: London

–Do you remember that night in the Marquee Club, ‘sixty-five? The night the Idle Hands blew the Stones off the stage —

Ageing rock star Rocky Lamont celebrates his 60th birthday and looks back through his memories. He discovers an old trunk left he had hidden away 30 years ago, containing a special drug mix he had brought home from a Hindu swami that would allow people to switch bodies. That’s when he decides to restart his life and his career fresh by taking over the body of 24-year old street musician Sean Cody.

The cast:

Rocky Lamont: Used to be the lead guitarist of a rock n roll group called the Idle Hands. The high point of his career was one night in 1965, when they blew the (Rolling) Stones off the stage. He is your typical big-name rock star, complete with drug abuse problems, head trips, guru meditation, punk daughter, bad divorce, under-30 new wife and a bad way of coping with ageing. He is now 60 and his desire to become young again will set in motion the events recounted in this series.

–The other morning I woke up with this quite extraordinary erection. I didn’t touch it, I didn’t even let Trixie touch it. I just stared at it with awe. And if my morning stiffy had had a hand I would have shook it warmly and said: hello old friend. It’s been a long time.–

Sean Cody: 24 years old, no visible music talents but big aspirations. Rocky Lamont approaches him with false flattery and drags him into his world. He thinks this is the recognition of his talent, and his naivety will get him into more trouble than he had bargained for.

Trixie Lamont: Rocky Lamont’s second wife. Cunning and manipulative, she’s is far more intelligent than she lets on, since she knows her game very well. She will try to use Rocky’s aspirations of youth to her own advantage.

–I suppose you could say that my brains shrunk as my boobs grew. It was survival of the fittest. A Darwinian struggle for limited resources that my boobs won, hands downs, leaving my brains in an evolutionary cul-de-sac.–

Zoe Lamont: Rocky’s daughter. She fancies herself a new age sculptress and goes out of her way to be provocative. She enjoys playing the part of daddy’s little spoiled girl but maybe daddy won’t keep forgiving her if she goes too far…

Rocky: -You look a bit tired, sweetheart.

Zoe: -That’d be al the drinking and f*cking

Victoria Lamont: Rocky’s first wife. She once tried to commit suicide after Rocky dumped her for Trixie. She now runs a health food store chain and continues to be a part of Rocky’s life.

Choice quotes:

Trixie-I bumped into Tony Blair in the billiards room. Asked him about the knighthood.

Rocky-Trixie!

-All the other have got one. It isn’t fair.

-What did you say?

-That I’d give him the blowjob of his life if he made you a sir.

The Tally:

Story: 10/10 this title boasts a fresh new concept and a great execution by Peter Milligan who utilizes an occult setting to explore some interesting concepts: what happens to rock stars when they’re past their prime? Is youth really wasted on the young? What are the things that define one’s personality, and can you really trust your own mind and memories? As is always the case with Milligan’s books, the focus is squarely on the characters and how they react when pitted in such an unlikely situation. The characters all have their own distinctive voices, although it’s really Trixie and Rocky who shine through this as truly distinctive personalities. Even Sean, who felt too constrained in his young and naïve mould at first, won me over with his inner monologue in #3, where he sits amongst a mountain of Rocky’s records and press clippings trying to piece together the life everyone tells him he has forgotten, pushing aside all his real memories of his family and his love…

Art: 8/10 Philip Bond is a name I hadn’t come across before this series, and I wouldn’t have expected his style to mesh with this style, but it does. Oh boy, it sure does!

His figures are somewhat “pop”, with stylized figures, who manage to come out as both sexy and a bit cartoony. There’s a certain amount of nudity in the series, but he manages to portray the human body and anatomy naturally and thus those scenes feel awkward (like seeing your friends naked for the first time) but not offensive.

The aspect of his art that really impressed me are his facial expressions! The characters look and feel unique, especially the faces of the two protagonists: Sean and Rocky. We see Rocky through various ages, and Bond manages to let his age show each time in his face, but he always retains certain characteristics that make him recognizable. I did feel that I was looking at the photos of the same man, taken through different decades of his life. What is even more amendable is the way the characters’ personality shows through their expressions. After #3 when Sean and Rocky have switched bodies, the facial features of the characters remain the same, but their expressions have changed. I don’t know if it was just me but I could feel Rocky living under Sean’s skin and vice versa. Sean in Rocky’s body had a more innocent expression and Rocky in Sean’s body was grittier, and he retained his body language from the earlier issues. I don’t know many artists who could pull this off.

The only negative comment I could make about the art (nee done to justify not giving this guy 10/10) is that at some points the way characters are standing or gesturing seems a bit odd and cold, like they’ve been frozen in that particular position. This is only a minor quirm though since the characters are portrayed normally through most of the series…

Overall: 9/10 Highly recommended buy it now or forever leave in regret.!

–I am wearing the most sought-after designer gear in town. A young body. It used to belong to someone called Sean but now it’s mine. And guess what? It’s a perfect fit. — Rocky Lamont

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Next on LYS@D: I talked with several fan-favorite creators about their views on death in comics. First up is Chuck Austen (writer of marvel’s Uncanny X-men title and the Call) in a column that will go online in the middle of the week. The second part of the article will be released on Saturday on the column’s regular schedule. Until then, feel free to visit the message boards or email me to give me your thoughts and remarks..

Congratulations to Ian/Cobassaki who answered last week’s QOTW and wins a sketch from yours truly!

Question of the week #3: — If you were in Rocky Lamont’s shoes and were given the same way out, how would you act?– You can answer via email or through the boards. As was the case last week, one lucky (?) fellow will win a commission sketch from Manolis Vamvounis (that’s me).

Manolis Vamvounis

a.k.a. Doc Dooplove