This is a truly excellent graphic novel. The artwork is amazing (I highly recommend you peruse the cover gallery), the writing sharp as a scythe, the humour as black as pitch. The most imaginative concept I've come across in years, and the best realised. I was so entertained I immediately ordered volumes 2 and 3, just on the strength of this.
Was this review helpful to you?
Ben Templesmith is probably most popular for his work on 30 days of night and Fell (and to a lesser degree other titles such as criminal macabre). This title continues his work within the horror genre, but this time with a rather funny twist.
Far from the side puns from work like Fell, Wormwood is a lot more all out with the humour, and focuses on Wormwood - a maggot with a penchant for understatement, a love for alcohol and a snappily dressed corpse to walk around in, Mr. Pendulum - his robotic drinking buddy, and Phoebe, his ex-"dancer" employee in their various escapades fighting plants that spore from people, evil demon summoning cults of monsters, and going to the pub.
The humour does tend to be fairly dark (It'd have to be, seeing as the main character is effectively a corpse), but I would definitely recommend this for anyone even mildly curious. This is a real gem.
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
SQUISHY, DARK FUN!28 April 2007
- Published on Amazon.com
Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse is the product of 30 Days of Night artist, Ben Templesmith, who not only provides the art, but wrote the story as well. This 152 page trade paperback collects the four issue mini-series along with the Wormwood: The Taster which served as a prelude to the mini-series. If I could pick just one word to describe Wormwood it would be...squishy...that tends to sum up both the look and feel of the book. Wormwood is a sentient worm that lives inside the eye-socket of a rather dapper English gentleman corpse. I've heard Wormwood described as actually being a maggot but no, he's definitely longer and, uh, squishier than a maggot.
Wormwood is never without his sidekick Mr. Pendulum, a mechanical construct with a bad attitude who looks like one of the members of ZZ Top. He's also frequently in the company of a lazy ghost detective named Trotsky, assistant Phoebe Phoenix, and former girlfriend Medusa who runs a local strip club and guards a gateway to hell. A pretty eclectic band of characters, no doubt about it!
Wormwood is like the John Constantine of the worm/maggot world. He's known to associate with various demons and deities, often over a multitude of beers. The opening prelude takes place in Medusa's club which suddenly becomes infected with demonic plants which have a nasty habit of bursting out of the customer's mouths. Wormwood and crew have to find the sporefather and destroy it before all of the customers become hothouses four more of the beasties. "Birds, Bees, Blood, and Beer" is a four-part story making up the bulk of the book. Someone is selling men what amounts to tainted viagra...improving their sexual performance, but also causing their seed to quickly germinate until a many-tentacled creature explodes out of their partner's belly. Yes...squishy is definitely the word for Wormwood.
By his own admission, Templesmith's art is love it or hate it. I have come around and you can count me in the "love it" category. His sketchy, abstract style is a perfect marriage to visual horror genre. Few artists today make use of color for style and setting a mood they way Templesmith does. Even the word balloons take on distinctive characteristics for the various characters. Templesmith weaves the horrific elements with dry humor for a masterful series. The book concludes with a spectacular cover and pin-up gallery featuring art by Templesmith, Grant Gould, Colton Worley, and Art Grafunkel.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Hellboy + Constantine = Wormwood17 Jun. 2007
- Published on Amazon.com
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.
The story elements (plot, characters, dialogue, etc.) are very solid, often brilliantly funny yet never quite `comical' to the point of being, in a sense, comfortable (which is a great thing, a hard thing to manage).
The art is absolutely on another level -- worth 50 more stars and then some. As cliche as it is to say, it really must be seen to be properly experienced or even remotely understood.
Wormwood very much feels like a kind of bastard child (stated in the most complimentary sense) between Neil Gaiman's Sandman series and Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis. I mean this in both aesthetic and literary senses. There seems to be a certain black, dry wit that these guys (Gaiman, Ellis, Templesmith) manage to pull off that is rare; it almost feels like a kind of grotesque (again, this is admirable), evolved version of what most people think of when thinking of `British humo(u)r'.
That all said, this is a gorgeous and absolutely visceral graphic novel. I'd never hope or think that the likes of Gaiman and Ellis are `done' in this genre, far from it, but if Templesmith represents something of a new generation, we're in good (decaying) hands.
I'm admittedly naive about how the graphic novel industry works, but these seems like a series just begging to get picked up by a major brand, specifically DC's Vertigo imprint.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Wormwood3 May 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
Once you peel away the hype, the best-selling "30 Days of Night" is fairly standard vampire boilerplate. What made that series special was Ben Templesmith's phenomenal frenetic art. Now, Templesmith has trimmed off that writer-guy appendage and ventured out on his own, helming a series about a telekinetic talking maggot and his pet meatsack. Not only does Templesmith prove himself adept with a script, his art has leaped forward in development. This is beautiful stuff (depending on your appreciation for splatter, grotesquerie and demonic squid), splashed out in great gouts of black and crimson and morgue green. Templesmith is obvious about his influences -- Dave McKean, Bill Sienkiewicz, Giger, Lovecraft -- without being enslaved to them. He's carving out his own fetid niche. Maybe his chain-smoking, pint-guzzling protagonist too closely resembles a zombie John Constantine (Hey, Vertigo could hire Templesmith to save that floundering series), and maybe the book relies too often on the easy juvenile laugh, but I've read worse just to look at Templesmith's pretty pictures. It's nice to see a story that "lives" up to his art.
To start- this series is very explicit and vulgar and geared toward an adult audience- not that that makes it good or bad, but it should reach the right audience.
The art style is a bit different from some of Templesmith's other work, but the treatment is very polished (even if the style is loose at times). I like Templesmith's work in this series, but that is really all a matter of personal preference. The story is quite odd, Wormwood is actually a parasite- you can see him in the corpse's eye- so he isnt so much a zombie as he is some alien worm that can control human corpses. The humor is also quite dry and a little obtuse as a lot of British humor is. The story can be a bit convoluted and outright bizarre, but really it adds to the charm of the books. For some the writing will probably be offensive, but it is very tongue-in-cheek - and seeing as how the premise is a bit off the wall the dialgue suits it.
I would suggest buying this volume- and if you like it- to buy out the rest of the series because the arc is spread across the volumes and this is pretty reflective of the rest of the series. The only real disappointment was when I was finished reading (all of the volumes) knowing that I wouldnt be seeing Wormwood in any other adventures- at least any time soon.