I haven’t really kept up on reading Alan Moore’s more recent comics, since they all tended to be bleak affairs, so I managed to miss the Kickstarter for Alan Moore’s Cinema Purgatorio entirely. However, I have now purchased the first two issues of the anthology from Avatar Press (also known as That Publisher Who Publishes The Weird Stuff From Alan Moore and Warren Ellis) and here is my review.
Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill (the creators of The League of Extraordinary Gentlement) have the first story of each issue, which is also the weakest story in each issue. Because, really, it isn’t a story at all: it is a tale of a recurring dream about the “Cinema Purgatorio,” an old dilapidated cinema that airs weird movies, like shorts where the Keystone Kops end up killing the robbers and the hostages. Honestly, this isn’t close to Moore’s best work, although he still does have a good eye for interesting prose. O’Neill, on the other hand, draws creepy exceedingly well.
The second story is from Garth Ennis and Raulo Caceres and it’s called Code Pru. It’s about Prudence, an EMT just starting out on the night shift, when she realizes that the people she will be helping aren’t exactly people are at all, but vampires and other creatures of the night. Still, the supernatural needs medical attention just as much as normal people do and the story has just the right mix of medical drama and humor.
The third story, Modded by Kieron Gillen and Ignacio Calero, is definitely the best of the bunch: it takes place in a post-apocalypse world, 38 years after the “Etheric Invasion,” where the world is now inhabited by “daemons,” creatures that you can summon and capture and then duel against other daemons. Yes, this is a deconstruction on Pokemon, but it is well-written and the world-building is astounding. The main character is a young girl named Fringe whose daemon, Fluffbumble, was taken by a “daemonatrix” named Tommy Zero (who wants all of the daemons) and now she has to team up with another woman, Bloody Susan, to get him back.
The fourth story is called A More Perfect Union, an alt-history Civil War tale by Max Brooks and Michael DiPascale. The South, led by General Lee, are setting a trap for their enemy. But their enemy right now isn’t the North, but rather giant insects. I’ll admit that this story hasn’t really interested me so far and the art is kind of meh, but I can tell that it’s meticulously researched and it is intriguing in parts. It seems as if it would have worked better if the entire story was released at once, rather than in bits and pieces, but hopefully the next chapter will pick up the pace.
And finally, the last story is called The Vast by Christos Gage and Gabriel Andrade. It’s about the army fighting against giant kaiju, so it has a little bit of Pacific Rim in it, but there aren’t any giant robots. So far, it’s been intriguing, especially the information that the biggest kaiju (called “Apex”) has the ability to mutate any surrounding animals.
So that’s it. Each issue is $5.99, which is a bit steep, but it’s a lot of pages without any ads. And I think it’s definitely worth it for both Code Pru and Modded, although other readers might like the alt-history of A More Perfect Union or the giant monsters of The Vast. In any case, it’s your choice.