Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Alice Cooper: 'The Last Temptation'
(Marvel Comics, 1994) 




I was a High School student from 1974 to 1978, and along with 'nickel bags', feathered-back hair parted in the middle, flared polyester slacks,  foldout album covers,  and other gems of the pop culture of the era, there was Alice Cooper.

Alice (the stage name of Vincent Furnier) was regularly featured on the covers of rock magazines like 'Circus', and he would come around the upstate New York region where I lived and give concerts in the medium-sized arenas. Unfortunately, I never got to see Alice in his heyday, but I did see him live when he opened for the Stones in 2006 at their Phoenix stop. Alice put on a good show.

By the early 90s Alice was looking for a new direction, in terms of trying to broaden his audience to include a younger generation, who didn't recognize that Cooper was one of the founding fathers of the burgeoning Goth, grindcore,and death metal scene.

In 1994 Alice decided to use the concept of “a young man’s struggle to see the truth through the distractions of the ‘Sideshow’ of the modern world” as the central artistic approach to a new album titled 'The Last Temptation'. He collaborated with Marvel comics, and star writer Neil Gaiman ('Sandman' ), on a three-issue series also titled 'The Last Temptation'. Part One (released under Marvel's 'Epic' imprint) was released in May 1994.


Part One 



The story, which takes place in a small town in late October, involves an adolescent boy named Steven whose friends like to tell scary stories as Halloween comes near:



 

The group is surprised to find an alley alongside the Pox Drugstore...although no one has ever noticed an alley in that location before...



Only Steven is brave enough to take Alice up on an offer to enter the 'Grand Guignol' theatre at the end of the alley:




The Show begins and Steven sees himself portrayed on stage...as a boy lost in the badder part of town. The zombie-like inhabitants of this skid row are here of their own design:



 

After viewing some other creepy performances, Alice tells a shaken Steven the show is over...for tonight. But he's welcome to come back tomorrow night...for the Grand Finale:



While not an overtly gruesome or gory comic (it is aimed at a young adult audience, after all), this first Part of 'Temptation' does succeed in setting up an atmosphere of unease. Alice is portrayed in a rather sinister light, which, of course, is how he prefers it.


I'll be posting excerpts from Part Two and Part Three over the next week, just in time for Halloween.

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