Hot on the supernatural heels of Constantine and Hellboy comes another demon fighter/monster killer of ambiguous character named Wormwood. He's a welcome addition to the horror comic-book hero pantheon due to his unflappable personality and dark humor.
Like Hellboy, Wormword isn't, shall we say, quite human. He's a sentient wormlike creature who uses corpses for mobility and to blend in with humanity (magic helps a bit with his camouflage). As with Constantine, he's familiar with the nasty underbelly of reality and has a sense of noirish mirth that leavens his altruism. And there is also the typical assortment of oddball, gifted sidekicks to provide comic relief and take the brunt of punishment during combat.
In this collection, Wormwood and his partners take on some Cthulhu-like creatures that are threatening to devour humanity. Of course, this particular storyline has been done many times before. But Mr. Templesmith manages to (ahem) inject some interesting angles. For example, the author does a fine job tapping into our primal fears of sharing bodily fluids, STDs, and being consumed by one's lover or offspring. And as for the medium of transmission - well, I'll certainly never watch a male enhancement commercial the same way again.
Despite the intriguing characters, I was somewhat underwhelmed by the climactic battle between Wormwood & Co. and the main nasty. It was handled in a somewhat different way than these conflicts usually are, but the resolution seemed to invalidate the preceding mayhem. Clever at first reading, but it kind of lost its luster for me after further reflection.
The helter-skelter art suggests Bill Sienkiewicz's run on the New Mutants awhile back. Normally I prefer a more realistic approach - I liked Mr. Sienkiewicz better when he was a Neal Adams clone (a la "Moon Knight"). For reference, my favorite horror artists are "Swamp Thing" illustrators Stephen Bissette, Rick Veitch, and John Totleben. However, as with Hellboy's artist, Mr. Templesmith's pencils fit his undead character's surreal tone and icky atmosphere just fine. As a bonus, cover and sketchbook art are included as well.
Overall, "Wormwood" is an interesting take on the loner hero (Wormwood and his ilk are always set apart, even when surrounded by associates) who stands between us and the forces of chaos. If you enjoy Hellboy and Constantine, then "Wormwood" will slither easily into your collection.