Wednesday, March 12, 2008

'the last temptation'

I never cared much for Alice Cooper, not even when he appeared on "The Muppet Show."

My younger brother liked him enough that he actually went out and bought the album "Alice Cooper Goes to Hell" after seeing the episode -- to this day I'm amazed that our mother consented to let him buy it, let alone listen to it -- but I never really "got" him. Over the years, I've read a few articles and interviews with Cooper that have piqued my interest a little, but never enough actually to listen to anything he's recorded.

Neil Gaiman, on the other hand, I can't get enough of.

So it was Saturday afternoon that I got my first exposure to Alice Cooper in more than 25 years when I saw a Dark Horse Comics trade paperback at the library. The title was "The Last Temptation," and as it turns out, the comic is based on a concept album that Alice Cooper did several years ago with Neil Gaiman. (I kid you not.)

The plot's pretty straightforward, really. A young boy named Steven is at that most awkward age, when he is neither a boy nor even properly speaking a teen. He's too old for childhood activities like trick-or-treating; and he's just at that age where he's starting to notice a je-nais-c'est-quoi about girls that he finds enticing, almost titillating.

Steven feels trapped and unsure of what comes next, when a mysterious showman appears. Amid a theater of horrors the showman offers him the opportunity to become a rock star in exchange for his future.

Standard Faustian stuff, really. The chief difference is that the Steven's good angel is watching out for him, and Steven discovers the dark truth about the showman and his history. He not only escapes the theater of the damned, he also destroys all that the showman has accomplished over the years.

Not a great comic, to be honest. It was worth borrowing from the library and reading once, I suppose, but I returned it Tuesday afternoon with a ton of other books. The best part was Gaiman's foreword. It was creepy and crack-up-out-loud funny at turns, but that alone isn't worth the price of buying a graphic novel.

Maybe I should get a copy for my younger brother. He always did seem to like that Alice Cooper album when we were little.

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