Thursday, May 20, 2010
I would looooove to find out how Devil was conceived. A cops vs vampires action manga, credited to the anime studio Madhouse, with no translator listed (though I'd guess that's why Alex Yeh gets "Special Thanks"), written and drawn by someone whose only previous US release is porn, and perhaps strangest of all, released in the US single-issue format and read left-to-right Western-style, which even Dark Horse finally gave up on a couple years ago. I don't even think this has a Japanese release! Craziness.
Actually, Devil's mysterious origins kind of overshadow the actual content. Fifteen minutes into the future, there are vampires (allegedly... they drink blood, but aside from that they're generic demon mutant shapeshifty things), and it is the job of a mismatched pair of buddy cops to shoot those vampires. That's basically it; these four issues come off as a pitch for a longer series (presumably an anime, given the Madhouse connection), introducing the world and three main characters. Nobody learns anything, nothing important gets resolved, and nobody changes. The dialogue is inconsistent, sometimes managing decent '80s action flick patter, and sometimes just clumsily trailing off into half-baked philosophical meanderings like so many other indifferently translated books.
The main appeal is in Torajiro Kishi's art. I think Brandon Graham said something once about doing porn comics making you think about body language and figure drawing, and that's pretty much the draw here. It gets a tad sketchy in places, but the characters are nicely expressive in a way you don't see too often, like the crazy albino patient-zero vampire flailing around and tugging her hair in fits of pique.
I'm more fascinated by Devil's unlikely existence than anything in it, but it's perfectly adequate, if you enjoy gory comics about hard-boiled cops emptying bullpup submachineguns into glowing mutant vampire ogres who spin kick cop cars at them. It's really kind of an '80s/'90s anime OVA on paper, including the less than respectful treatment of women, so be warned.