Or – “Pickles The Drummer! Doodily Doo Ding Dong DOODILY DOODILY DOO!”

TheDethklok phenomenon has grown to be the world’s third largest economy, providing work for thousands and supporting industries and countries around the world.  Their latest opus, the Dethtrain, is nearly ready to roll on their latest tour.  For those in the know, the expectation of random carnage is pretty much a given…

METALOCALYPSE – DETHKLOK #3
Writer(s): Brendon Small & Jon Schnepp
Scripter: Jeremy Barlow
Artist: Lucas Marangon
Cover Artist(s): Eric Powell/Jon Schnepp with Otto Tang
Colorist: Thomas Mason
Letterer: Blambot
Editor: Chris Warner
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously, on Metalocalypse – Dethklok: (Cue the “dun dada da dun dun” music.) Gentlemen.  You already know the greatest threat to our way of life that ever reared it’s ugly head…  Nathan Explosion! Lead singer…  Able to galvanize the proletariat more effectively than anyone since Joseph Stalin.  Skwisgaar Skwigelf! The fastest guitarist in the world, responsible for most of the groups’ arrangements.  Toki Wartooth! Rhythm guitarist, known to have a crippling fear of Bicentenntial quarters.  William Murderface! A self-destructive personality who expresses his self-loathing through bodily mutilation, excessive tattooing, alcohol abuse, and things best left undiscussed.  Pickles, the Drummer. Doodily doo ding dong doodily doodily doo.  Together, they are Dethklok.  And.  They.  Must.  Be.  Stopped!

Taller Than A Tree!

As with an adaptation of a live-action program, the biggest problem with a cartoon-based comic book tends to be consistency of likeness.  I’m happy to say that, from the first page, artist Maragnon does a pretty good job of simulating the production values of the Adult Swim cartoon, and keeps the characters on model (which is pretty difficult for some, notably Murderface.)  The band’s construction of a massive “Dethtrain” for their new tour has run into a couple of snags, in that a vengeful ghost that haunts trains has attached itself to them, and drummer Pickles is deathly (no pun intended) afraid of rail vehicles.  When legendary bluesman ‘Mashed Potato’ Johnson shows up with a request, it’s clear that we have a full-fledged episode of Metalocalypse on our hands.  Whether that’s a good thing for the readers depends on whether you’re familiar with what that statement MEANS, and whether you can take the brutality…

Not A Bumblebee

Brendan Small is the co-creator of Dethklok, and as such, everyone retains their familiar ‘voice’ from the cartoon, as Nathan rashly agrees to play a song for the old blues man, Skwisgaar is still an utter prig, Murderface displays his usual idiot logic (deciding that no one should be able to listen to their music after they die, he destroys his bass to spite anyone who wants to buy his legacy), and the usual profanity, drugs and rock & roll are present.  As a fan of Metalocalypse, I am entertained throughout, especially when it becomes clear that no one thought through the process far enough to figure out what happens after they run out of track.  There’s some nice dialogue, but the whole things loses a lot of its luster when the musical portion begins.  What would be an action sequence backed up by a killer metal track on late-night TV becomes a series of static panels with sound effects drawn in. Still, the ending works, and even features my favorite character (CFO Charles Foster Offdensen) getting in the last word…

The Verdict:  Brutal!

It’s hard to say how successful this story is for me, because I enjoyed the little touches of Metalocalypsery as much as the story itself.  The thing that sells Dethklok is the fact that each of these characters is barely functional, stuck in their own little world with no regard for humanity or the greater good, and that’s clearly here.  This story even ties into (and serves as a coda to) one of the previous episodes of the series, and ties it all up rather nicely in the end.  My reservations come in two places:  As much fun as it is, it’s pretty much a cut-and-dried adventure with no real consequences for anyone save ol’ ‘Mashed Potato.’  This is true of many (okay, most) of the cartoons as well, but the musical aspect combined with the fun of the character portrayals helps to overcome that.  That lack of music is the second problem with this issue, an underlying problem with anything musical in comics:  The nature of panel construction and the nature of musical enjoyment are diametrically opposed to each other.  Music requires a precise measurement of time, while the gutters in panels can literally be as long as they need to be, making the concert portion of the issue problematic.  All in all, though, this is a nice story for the Metalocalypse fan, displaying everything you need to know about Dethklok that you can get in this medium.  Metalocalypse – Dethklok #3 earns a well-done 3 out of 5 stars overall, as even with the problems of translation, it’s a nice read that will entertain you…

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: Has there ever been a music-themed comic that was 100% successful in translation?  Red Rocket 7?  Yellow Submarine?  Rock N’ Roll Comics?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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1 Comment

  1. jurman
    February 27, 2011 at 9:24 pm — Reply

    In response to your question, the one series that I think came the closest by far was Phonogram: The Singles Club. The whole series was great but specifically issue 7 where I swear if you read the panels at a certain pace they line up almost exactly with the song that the book references.

    Eric Powell did a great Dethklok/ Goon one shot that I thought was hilarious and captured the nature of the show perfectly.

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