KISS Solo #1: The Demon Written by Chris Ryall Art by Angel Medina Colors by Romulo Fajardo Covers by Romulo Fajardo, Keith Leroux, Angel Medina, Tone Rodriguez IDW Publishing Release Date: April 10, 2013 Cover Price: $3.99
If there was ever a band that was destined to live beyond their years of rockin’ and rollin’ all night into a comic book legacy, then it has to be KISS. From almost the beginning of their career they were seen as larger-than-life superheroes, and it was inevitable that Stan Lee from Marvel would open the gates to them entering comic book history – complete with vials of their own blood added to the red ink.
Now, in the 21st century, as the band continues with their new album release Monster and consequent world tour, IDW continues comic book KISStory – and this time claiming new ground. Just like 35 years ago when the individual members released their own solo albums, IDW is releasing “solo comics,” each chapter focusing on one of the individual four-who-are-one.
The first installment of KISS Solo focuses on Gene Simmons, or rather The Demon, in KISS Solo #1: The Demon. Continuing on from previous issues of the IDW KISS line, The Demon finds himself in a city terrorized by potential war. He is intrigued by humanity, a species capable of such wide ranging emotional states that he has never experienced in his existence as one of the four warriors of the Elder.
But while meandering among humanity, he stumbles across a group of enemies – the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse; or rather the Four Horsemen of the Destroyer. What follows is a battle among the warriors that tests the power of the Demon, as he wrangles with the Four Horsemen alone and away from his three companions.
The writing in KISS Solo is a lot of fun, but comes across very longwinded. In many ways, it’s a callback of nostalgia to the comics of the 1970s when KISS first burst out in the pages of Marvel – the dialogue and script are very much like that era, extremely wordy and lengthy in places. Though this is fun for your average KISS fan, and perhaps older comic book fans, the intention and approach may be lost on newer readers, which may unfortunately alienate them from the potential of this comic series.
The artwork in contrast, is quite spectacular. The Demon in the IDW universe is more curious than furious, but this makes for a complex character; adding a deeper dimension to his imagery that evokes elements of Marvel’s Mephisto and McFarlane’s Spawn. Conceivably this is unsurprising, considering the art is by none other than the legendary Angel Medina, who has had much history with previous KISS comics AND the Spawn series as well.
Coupled with the colors by Romulo Fajardo, the artwork dives headfirst into a new era for KISS with a unique style. However, it also provides homage to the KISS comic efforts of years gone by. The depiction of the serpent boots being released from The Demon to attack his adversaries is reminiscent of similar scenes from the Marvel series; while particular attention to specific details certainly pays homage to the Psycho Circus days. It’s a lovely marriage of both tribute and fortitude to step forward into a new comic era.
Sadly though, one criticism I have is with regards to layout. The digital copy of the comic offered for review contains several pages that work as two-page gatefolds, depicting action across a couple of pages… and yet the digital copy provided sets the layout as one-page-at-a-time. I’m sure there are some configuration options to overcome this on mobile devices, but this oversight is disorienting and takes away from the enjoyment of reading and viewing the story.
And while being a KISS fan instantly acknowledges me as having some bias towards this publication, I have to be honest and recognize that KISS Solo #1 is by no means a perfect book. Sure, it is fun, and I really enjoyed the nostalgic feel of the text and writing; and the artwork is fantastic. However, the writing style may not resonate well with newer and younger readers.
While it is a lot of fun to read, KISS Solo #1 is really a comic issue directed at KISS fans, and readers who are already following the IDW series. If you find yourself falling into either of these categories, then this is the book for you.
Overall Rating: 3½ out of 5
P.S. Dear IDW, we KISS fans want an Eric Carr comic. PLEASE!