Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Holy Terror #2

The Holy Terror #2, October 2002, Image Comics
writer: Jason Caskey
penciller: Phil Hester
inker: Jim Woodyard
colorist: John Warren
letterer: Gary Peterson

Blogger's note: Entry for Friday, February 22, 2008.

When I reviewed The Holy Terror #1 in November 2006, I commented on the connection between the worlds of wrestling and superhero comic books. The parallel is similar to my recent analysis of the kinship between superheroes and football players -- in short, all three genres of entertainment feature spandex-wearing musclebound men locked in competitive battle. While superheroes often fight to save the world, and football players play to win the Superbowl, wrestlers claim no pretense to their combativeness. It's fighting for fighting's sake, and though a championship belt may be involved, the real victory is the status as an expert (or just plain ruthless) brawler. Add a layer of demonic possession in the mix, and you have a sport that boys with a penchant for rough and tumble play simple cannot resist.

Welcome to The Holy Terror -- as if the wide world of wrestling actually needed a supernatural kick in the pants to up the ante of adrenaline-induced violence. Last issue introduced Max, a struggling young wrestler whose manager unwittingly condemned him to a collision course with the macabre via the mask and persona of the Holy Terror. In this issue, Max's struggles with the Terror's identity go to the next level as he experiences inexplicable fits of righteous rage. When his manager demands that he throw his next fight and retire the Holy Terror, Max, presumably under the influence of the mask itself, refuses, nearly killing his opponent and earning the adoration of his audience. This issue's cliffhanger propels the series' supernatural subplot and sets up the reader for an inevitable collision of Max's two new worlds, which makes me wonder, which is a more possessive force: the darkly magical roots of the Holy Terror's origin, or the praise and admiration of wrestling's' hardcore fans?

I really can't say anything more about this issue that I didn't say for number one. Caskey's engrossing script allows plenty of room for Hester's art to breathe, particularly during the fight sequences, when some choreography is necessary for the story's sequential nature. In the climatic battle with Dion "Big Trouble" Huffman, Hester particularly shines, and while I might normally criticize the scene's lack of background detail, isolating the two characters epitomizes the otherworldly nature of their combat. The contrast with Hester's early work in Rust #1, which I reviewed last month, is also evident, particularly under the influence of Jim Woodyard's crisp, moody coloring. Overall, I would say that The Holy Terror #2 is definitely worth a hop in the ring. Just don't expect to come out in one piece.

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