Cold Heat Special #6
Chris Cornwell, writer/artist
PictureBox, September 2009
I think it was $10
Chris Cornwell is the joker in the Cold Heat deck. The only Cold Heat Specialist who doesn’t create his installments of the spinoff series in collaboration with Cold Heat-proper cocreator Frank Santoro, he’s also the farthest afield from CH‘s usual tone of wistful, sensual menace and transcendence. His first CHS involved an assassin whose dayjob was rock stardom and the evil Senator Wastmor piloting a giant minotaur robot. Similarly, this issue is summed up by that gorgeous, iconic cover, featuring some kind of robed Satan worshipper rocking out; this leads into an opening sequence in which a band comprised of monsters “rehearses” by destroying their own equipment in a montage that reminds me of Yacht Rock’s take on Van Halen in terms of sheer half-parody/half-salute comedic rockitude.
Indeed the whole comic feels a bit like a montage. There’s that opening Monsters of Rock sequence’ a credits-spread scene of a nude Senator Wastmor getting drunk and drowning in an ocean of his own puke’ a “secret history of Cold Heat” story (really the core segment) about one of Wastmor’s ancestors attempting to sacrifice a beautiful girl to his demonic masters in colonial days before being thwarted by alien protectors; a near-abstract spacetime-rupturing transition sequence linking that centuries-old adventure to the present-day viewing of a Chocolate Gun videocasette by other aliens; and a glimpse of how the aliens’ power affects CG lead singer Joel Cannon juxtaposed with how Cannon’s music effects Cold Heat heroine Castle. Got all that? It can be tough to follow, particularly toward the end of the book, but following it doesn’t appear to me to be the point. It’s more a case of latching on to isolated images and impressions, meaning that Cornwell in his goofy slapstick way is mimicking the more lyrical approach of Santoro and Ben Jones in Cold Heat itself. And he can do it, too–he’s got the visual chops to bounce back and forth between slick cartooniness (the cover, Wastmor’s bender), rough-edged Fort Thunder/Closed Caption Comics-style monstrousness (the band, the aliens), non-narrative visual-driven psychedelia (the transition sequence), and on the last two pages, a glimpse of Cold Heat‘s trademark music-as-emotional-salvation leitmotif. Plus the book is as lovely an object as the CHS series has seen so far, with that killer, please-make-it-a-poster cover and two gorgeous color pin-ups literally pasted to the inside covers. If only every comic-book franchise had this kind of quality control.