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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Kiss: Psycho Circus - From 2000

Honest reviewers must sometime kiss and tell.

I was prejudiced. That telling remark means I am no fan of the “musical" group Kiss that is better known for its silly mime makeup and costumes than music. My preference for substance over glitz is not just lip service. Therefore, a Kiss comic book must be bad, right?

I was stunned. Kiss: Psycho Circus has almost nothing to do with Kiss, the rock and roll group. Sorta. Oh, there are lots of advertisements about Kiss toys, books and stuff in its pages, and a letter column that makes it clear readers would like to see more Kiss in the title. It is also true that a Kiss "musician" is seen in only seven panels out of twenty-two pages of story. But this comic book has nothing to do with glitz over substance.

Kiss is about stunning art, dramatic visual storytelling, accurate anatomy and architecture, amazing staging, and an eye for the importance of atmosphere. Artist Clayton Crain's pencils will grab you by the eyeballs, and the inker, colorist and even package designer of this comic book will shake you until your brain hurts.

This issue of Kiss is not so much about story. The writing in this dream sequence is imaginative, the dialog is believable, and even though this was my first Kiss, I had no problem in following events or characters that had been established in earlier issues.

I was entertained.

Since one issue in any series is just a piece of a greater whole, I suspect this greater whole isn't a kiss off either. It is just possible that this is the first comic book series that is better than the subject upon which it is loosely based.

Please believe that my unexpected but final evaluation of the 26th issue of this comic series is not tongue in cheek. Kiss is highly recommended.

Kiss: Psycho Circus #26 is priced at $2.25. Published by Image and written by Brian Holguin. Available in comics shops and by mail.