"Probably destroying all of creation, what about you?" - Satan
We left Billy and team facing Armageddon on earth as the forces of Hell breached the gates of Heaven. Well okay that's not a regular occurrence, even in the dark genre. Anyway Billy and his Guardian Angel are call in from the ball pit to come to the aid of Heaven as the final defences are breached. Billy and team get to face Deadus and the undead hordes, Billy's half-brother, and of course the usual assorted riders of the apocalypse as God and Satan plan a get together for the following week. When did I say this comic isn't steeped in the surreal folks?
Naturally since Billy is involved we're talking mass mayhem, heaven going up in flames, and a couple of twists to the plot that should have Readers high fiving their Alice Cooper plush toys. Read to rock to the final instalment of Billy Demonslayer - Series 1?
You know there are a couple of tropes in horror that just keep cropping up like that drunk Uncle at family gatherings. Hayden Fryer is across the concepts and works them in without missing a beat. Firstly the idea that it was all just a dream, perhaps, gets tossed into the mix with good effect. This allows for an upbeat ending that rounds out successfully from what is perhaps a touch of too much macabre to end in any other fashion. Let's face facts here when you have Heaven going up in flames it's going to be pretty hard to knock on the old door and close things out. The other trope Fryer hits is the nihilistic angle, there are no winners here, both ultimate evil and ultimate good don't fare so well by comic's end. It's an interesting approach that gets overlooked due to the lighter tone Fryer conjures up. Yes we're still not talking the dark heart of horror here, more the outlying stand-up comedy club of horror.
As a final statement in series one, Armageddon Part 2 certainly hits the spot. All the major characters get their moment in the sun - albeit it for some characters that would be a very small moment, with the same tone and atmosphere maintained from previous issues in the series. The conclusion may not be what we might have expected, but given the situation that Fryer has been building toward there really wasn't too much leeway available to conclude the graphic novel successfully. I was more than happy with the final confrontation, the conclusion that tied up all plot elements, and the platform put in place for the second series. Hayden Fryer has created a successful graphic novel that should appeal to the younger fan base out there and of course those of us who have a holistic approach to documenting the dark genre's myriad corridors.
What series one does well is setup is Billy as a central character in the firmament of Australian dark genre comics. We're talking a sort of anti-hero very much in the Clint Eastwood "man with no name" mode. Interestingly Billy sends out different messages and isn't exactly the run of the mill comic book character we may have run across before.
For those with the graphic novel in a single publication rather than having dialled into the series comic by comic there's a bunch of extras coming at you. Besides the individual comic covers, in time honoured anthology fashion, there's also a gallery with differing Artists visualising Billy in different ways to Hayden Fryer's viewpoint. It's an interesting addition to our entertainment and well worth dialling into the single novel release for.
While that's all meat to the horror grind we're actually dialling in for the visuals of Writer/Artist Hayden Fryer. Over the course of the novel Fryer's style has grown on me, it convincingly conveys the feeling and direction of the script without overly burdening the reader with cluttered panels. While Fryer's art does show a maturing style through the second series, and he has his own voice in later stand-alone comics, there's still a feeling of the art being in prototype during series one. Everyone has to start somewhere, and Fryer is starting at a much higher level in Billy Demonslayer than you see in most Artists launching their first major production into the public domain.
I've had a lot of fun reading Billy Demonslayer Series 1 and am now somewhat disappointed that I didn't hit this one prior to having consumed the second series at a rapid pace. If there's ever a third series mooted I'm going to be grabbing that bad boy straight off the presses. Hayden Fryer mixes in the horror elements, lots of comedy, and takes the plot into what should be outrageous places. The script of this one really shouldn't work, but Fryer pulls it off without any issues. While the book might on the surface appear to be for the younger reader, and hell yeah that would work, I'm still going to recommend this one to all the Readers who are happy to grab some of their youthful past. Rock on kids, the book doesn't take itself seriously, so dial in if simply wanting to be entertained.
I'm not sure if the book is currently available, the publishing world being what it is, but you can check out the official Billy site right here. Hayden Fryer, when he's not publishing excellent comics, is hacking around at Siberian Productions. Okay I'm fine, you're fine, we'll be back with more Billy reviews in the coming weeks.