Sunday, June 2, 2013

'Slash Maraud' by Doug Moench and Paul Gulacy

DC published 'Slash Maraud' as a six-issue miniseries from November, 1987 to April, 1988.

Doug Moench threw everything he could find from 80s pop and sf culture into this one. Escape from New York, The Road Warrior, Buckaroo Banzai, the TV show American Gladiators, all make up the bizarre, but entertaining stew, that is 'Slash'.

Slash Maradovich, 'famed Detroit Polack', and a mix of 'Mad' Max Rokatansky and Snake Plisskin, is a soldier of fortune in a near-future Earth that has been taken over by a race of technologically superior aliens called the Shapers. 

The Shapers look like 'Ernie' from Sesame Street, but that's simply a physical form they assume while in proximity to Terrans; in reality, the Shapers are - well - shapeless, able to assume any form they desire.

Earth's surface is slowly being terraformed to a design that suits the Shapers, with the Earth's population continuously being converted into a sort of protoplasmic 'goop' to serve this purpose. Apathy, anarchy, and end-of-the-world hedonism rule most of the few major metropolitan areas, where the human population is reduced to serving the perverted, often homicidal desires of the Shaper overlords.

 As a rebel without a cause, Slash is just too cool to get wrapped up in anything but his own survival. But when an old flame entreats him to assist a band of rebels and their ally, a Shaper defector, Slash reluctantly agrees to help out. 

This means traversing a USA, and later Europe, riddled with monsters created by the Shaper manipulation of the planet's ecosystem.

Complicating things are the various gangs peopling the wastelands; a tribe of butch lesbians, whose leader is modeled on Grace Jones; psychopathic hot-rodders and bikers; the Nulloids, a collection of deformed, homicidal mutants; neo-Nazis; and The Family, an inbred clan of backwoods types, who take inspiration from 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre'.

Paul Gulacy's artwork is excellent, despite the rather crude color separations used in 80s comics. And Moench's plotting carefully teeters on the edge of satire, even as it barrels along with little in the way of filler.

Visually, Gulacy's artwork channels the 80s so faithfully that 'Slash Maraud' can be placed in a time capsule as a quintessential representation of the decade's fashion and graphic style.

You name it, every excess of 80s fashion is on display here: 

Zebra-stripe bodysuits, sleeveless leather vests, Blade Runner trenchcoats,  mousse-supported spiked and New Wave hairdos, Frederick's of Hollywood fetish gear, Punk stylings.....

'Slash Maraud' is not a must-have classic of 80s comic art, but it's certainly more entertaining than much of the superhero material churned out in that era by the major publishers. 

If you have a liking for satirical humor mixed with well-done action sequences, then you'll probably want to check the online comic book stores, or online auctions, for a set of all 6 issues (which still are quite affordable).


Edo Bosnar said...

Even though I was big into comics when this came out back in the 1980s, I only read it the first time a few years ago. And I have to say, I doesn't hold up well, and as you noted, the "costumes" and "sets" really date it (too bad, I otherwise love Gulacy's art). Given all of the pastiches Moench employed, I think it would have worked better if he went for all-out satire instead of the half-serious tone he ended up using.

rene said...

Can you recommend other books in this vein? I picked it up not too long ago and loved it. I know this was a genre of sorts around this time, but can't seem to articulate what exactly Im looking for. I just ran across you NEW YORK YEAR ZERO post and that title seems like something I'll enjoy. I guess I'm looking for that "80's gang, bleak future, sci-fi" kinda books.

Im really digging the site. thanks in advance.