“Hell Yeah #5”

I shudder to think about what the modern American mainstream comics landscape would be without the UK invasion of the late ‘70s and ‘80s. The big names are now cemented as canonical in the medium : Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, Kevin O’Neill, Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, etcetera. These folks contributed to further developing comics that seemingly had the ability to  dream and function all on their own, where the reader just eavesdropped on the world that was, had always been, and now in retrospect continues to turn for anyone who cracks open the pages and wants to fall in. As Hell Yeah closes its introductory storyline with issue five, writer Joe Keatinge and artist Andre Szymanowicz stand on the brink of giving the mainstream comics zeitgeist a fun new universe to fall into for the foreseeable future. And they are doing it with the simple idea that all a boy really needs is a multiverse at his disposal, a cause to stand up for, and a culture (and a medium) ready for new heroes.

A treat of the series so far has been that it wears all of its influences on its shoulder, and is unafraid to reference the medium that spawned it (Hey, its sorta Bat-Mite; or Hey, its sorta Commissioner Gordon), both in image and text. Hell Yeah in much of its design and execution on the page is pop culture pushed to the extremes, and I will venture that there is a tad of commentary about culture and its either decline or evolution depending on how you look at it. Part of that cultural commentary may fall on the presentation of the imagery and the choice of what is shown in way of action/violence sequences. Szymanowicz and his inker do very clear, detailed, bold work, and by no means is the art sloppy in its depictions nor execution of the narrative. Sequentially speaking it is in fact very straightforward and easy to navigate. I would even say that it shares kinship in detail to the work in recent Image mini series like Grim Leaper and the Strange Talents of Luther Strode, where inner anatomical showcasing has indeed left nothing to the imagination.  Am I a fan of gratuitous violence? No, but  I will opine that the comic (and the series) actually plays all of the violence as very over the top, ‘splosions and red, red, Hammer film type blood to accentuate the action, which seems to fit the tone of homage to mainstream comics in general. It earns its T+ rating with flying colors.

Issue five delivers on the promise of payoff by big reveals for Ben Day, who by the end of the issue sits ready to be an agent of change for a world (and a mass medium) still in need of new heroes, as :

“We fight so much now. Every day brings a new crisis or secret war for all the big heroes to fight. Its been this way for twenty five years. Most of it the public’s entirely unaware of. Which brings us to you.”

As I am not into spoilers I can say nothing else, nor really who gives this speech. But it is fascinating as the issue ends on a note that could really have issue six go anywhere.  Its strength is where Nick Spencer’s Infinite Vacation, another recent (and permanently delayed) multiverse head trip, has ultimately failed…Hell Yeah  knows what type of comic it wants to be (is) and where it wants to go narratively. So, if you are interested in checking out a comic that is about comic and pop culture references,multiverses, heroes, multiple incarnations, intrigue, a few expletives and all that good comic booky stuff, head to the LCS (c’mon, drag yourself away from the digital) and get the back issues as Hell Yeah may just be the comic for you.