Let’s start this out by saying I am a huge Slayer fan. I love the band. Reign in Blood and South of Heaven are two of my favorite thrash albums of all time. I even sorta dug their latest release, 2015’s Repentless, even though the death of Jeff Hanneman had clearly taken some of the steam out of the band. So, when Dark Horse Comics announced they were releasing a Slayer comic book, I was all in. Whatever it it turned out to be, I was gonna buy it.
Unfortunately, what it turned out to be is an exercise in soulless storytelling. Slayer: Repentless #1 is based on the music videos that came out of the Repentless album. As videos, they were actually pretty rad, but this does not carry over into comic book form. The script from Jon Schnepp is awkward and clunky, and the dialogue sounds unnatural. Worse yet, we’re given zero reasons to care about the characters–scenes just fly by as people are killed and then more people are killed and then a guy meets up with Slayer (literally the band) in a bar and then more people are killed. As far as stories go, this one is an aimless and empty dud.
The only real saving grace of this issue is the art from Guiu Vilanova. His work is at its best when things are grimy and violent, which is the case for most of this comic. Visually, the pacing of the book is pretty solid; honestly, if you took all the words out this might be an okay silent issue. Scenes like one in which a dude cuts off another dude’s face and wears it like a mask are haunting and brutal. It’s even sorta cool when he draws the band just hanging out in a bar like a bunch of scumbag tough guys, because the scene looks so great. Vilanova carries this book.
But when it comes down to it, the only reason you should buy Slayer: Repentless #1 is if you are a total Slayer completist. Like, you bought the deluxe edition of Repentless the day it came out and are still listening to it right now. If that doesn’t describe you, you may want to skip this one. I love Slayer and I love comic books, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to love a bad comic book that has Slayer’s name written across the cover.
Image: Dark Horse Comics