- Posted by Johanna on February 12, 2008 at 10:58 pm
- Category: Indy Comic Reviews
- CREDITS: by Batton Lash
- PUBLISHER: Exhibit A Press; $3.50 US
Just out is Supernatural Law Secretary Mavis #5, a one-shot giving the popular supporting character her own focus. It’s refreshing to see her return, since her last issue was five years ago, and I’ve missed her.
In this story, “Weird Eye for the Normal Guy”, three ghosts are being sued. They promised to teach someone how to be scary, and he’s dissatisfied with the results. But the real story is how Mavis is going to balance her support of the case, the chance to get some long-delayed time with her boyfriend, and the obligation to attend a friend’s birthday party. By the end, the elements have interacted in surprising ways (some would say coincidental, although the author addresses that by having a character remember the warning to “not let any strange coincidences throw you”) , and everything’s been tidily resolved. As is the theme of these stories, we’re reminded that humans can be the biggest monsters of all.
This is the first time that a story that first appeared on supernaturallaw.com has been transferred to the comics. Knowing that explains why most of the pages divide neatly along a horizontal axis; it’s an elegant way to move from screen to page. Supernatural Law resembles a comic strip much of the time, anyway, with clean lines and distinctively recognizable characters. It’s dialogue-driven, either for exposition or gags, but the layouts are quite varied, with differences in backgrounds, gesture, and framing. It’s a comfortable read, a pleasant change from other comics that pride themselves on being excessively challenging, disturbing, or emotionally involving.
The cover by Bill Galven is a Little Lulu homage. The back cover is by Fred Hembeck, a drawing that reinforces the ghosts’ resemblances to Casper’s Ghostly Trio, although these haunts are much more mild-mannered.
The explanatory author’s notes address several points, including plans to put out more Supernatural Law material in the coming year. That’s a good thing. The only release last year was Supernatural Law: Wolff & Byrd the Movie (part of a series of issues that were more prominently labeled with titles instead of issue numbers, to overcome resistance to high-numbered indy comics, a tactic that won’t be used in the future).
In that issue, the two lawyers go to the West Coast to consult on a case in which two newly rich movie producers are suing because the ghost in the haunted mansion they bought isn’t high-profile enough. (How Hollywood!) While they’re there, Wolff & Byrd find themselves viewing part of a proposed movie based on themselves — drawn in first Sin City, then romance comic style!
It’s playful and funny with the homages. In addition to seeing those odd takes on the leads, it’s refreshing to see Alanna relaxing… in pigtails, no less! It’s easy to assume that the characters’ frustration with Hollywood not “getting” them might be shared by the author, given that there’s been an option for a movie for years now, but no movement apparent to outsiders. That may be going too far for what’s an entertaining yarn about sending beloved characters to Tinseltown.
Find out more at the publisher’s website. Complimentary copies for this review were provided by the publisher.
Update: This interview with author Batton Lash covers the series history, his approach to different media versions, his plans for the future, and his other work.