Advance Review: Black Metal, Book 2 – The False Brother

Black Metal, by writer Rick Spears and artist Chuck BB, is one of my favorite comics ever. For those of you who have no idea what Black Metal is, here’s the recap: two metal playing brothers discover that they are two halves of a demon known as The Roth. They head down to Hell to discover their destiny, and basically live out the cover artwork of every metal album, ever. It is – in case this isn’t clear already – awesome.

The art is fun and funny, the writing is tight, and everything is waaaay too over the top, from the amount of black and white violence, to the gigantic monsters, to the ridiculous show-downs. The entire time you’re reading the book, whether you’re a fan of metal music or not, you can almost hear the driving soundtrack playing in the background. In fact, I like this book so much, I’ve handed it to several friends who could care less about comics, but love metal music… And even they love it.

The first volume, which ended on a massive, awesome cliffhanger that kicked the series up to the next level, was released in August 2007. At convention after convention, I’ve chatted with Spears and Chuck BB about the second volume of the book, but it never came. They were working on it, they said. It was coming, they said. I waited, and waited, and finally, after over four years… Black Metal 2 is here.

So, after that build up, the anticipation, and the wait, how is it? Pretty damn metal, if you ask me.

The trademark humor is all there, the over-arching black metal storylines are in full effect, and best of all, its totally, totally disgusting. If you’re a fan of Metalocalypse – a show which crosses similar territory – you’re going to be a fan of this book.

That said, I have to admit a little bit of disappointment here. There’s no point that the book is particularly bad; it’s a breezy, quick read that moves the plot forward in major ways, while still feeling like its own unique volume. But the first book was a very, very tough act to follow. For the most part, Spears and BB stuffed volume one with every metal cliché under the sun, so there aren’t a ton of big ones left for volume two. Don’t get me wrong: there’s at least one major location in this upcoming volume that’s completely obvious, and a fun surprise at the same time. But because the characters are set, and the situations are set, there’s a little less fun and discovery going on here.

Where the book soars, though, is whenever it goes back to music. Sequences involving an unpublished record, or when a smith creates a sword of legend made me cackle with as much glee and excitement as I did way back in 2007. And the final fight sequence(s) are bone-crushingly epic, as they should be… There’s just some treading water in the middle that falls into the category of “good” rather than “AHHHHHH THIS IS THE BEST.”

[NOTE: I am a professional comic book critic. Can you tell?]

On the upside, this is extremely new reader friendly. Even if you didn’t pick up volume one (and you should), everything you need to know to get caught up is right there in the book, simply told in a one page recap. Plus, like I mentioned before, this book has its own arc and trajectory. So, you know: buy this.

The biggest downside of the book, though? It ends on ANOTHER massive cliffhanger. Here’s hoping it doesn’t take Spears and BB another four years to deliver the next hardcore volume of Black Metal.

Black Metal, Book 2: The False Brother will be released by Oni Press on October 5, 2011.