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The Webcomic Overlook #90: Locus

WCO-big-review

It’s a shame that the Grindhouse movie entered and left theaters so quickly. I’m too young to know what real grindhouse movies looked like, so I would’ve appreciated the experience. Now all we have are two separate DVDs for Planet Terror and Death Race… though everyone who’s seen all of them tells me that the original theatrical release was the superior version.

I guess what I like most about grindhouse is the poster designs. One of my favorite SomethingAwful Photoshop Phridays was the one that re-imagined famous movies as grindhouse posters. The aesthetic is partially reflected in the site redesign. Hell, I spent the weekend designing an online invite for my brother-in-law’s bachelor party, all done up in a font called “Feast of Flesh” and rendered in half-tone with images looking like they were clipped out of the local newspaper.

Today’s review focuses on a comic that seems to be the modern embodiment of a grindhouse film, steeped in viscera, horror, and gratuitous full-frontal nudity. Oh yes, there will be boobs. So many boobs that eventually you mind tricks you into a trance and you have to rind yourself that boobs in comics is kinda risque. It’s impossible to keep your mind out of the gutter after you’ve finished reading Locus. Now it ain’t no Oglaf or Sexy Losers; if Locus were a movie, it would likely score an R rating rather than a hard NC-17 or X. However, I feel I should warn you that everything after this paragraph should be considered NOT SAFE FOR WORK. Click on links at your own risk.

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I learned about Locus when creator Adam Black sent me the following e-mail:

It was nice to find that I’m not the only one sick and tired of zombie apocalypse comics. In fact, reading through all your horror comic reviews made me think (and I’m sorry, because I know exactly how this sounds) that you would dig my comic, Locus.

Locus is all about Boobs, Blood and Bad Language. She goes topless before fighting werewolves, and that’s just within the first 20 pages. I’d explain it a little further, but that would make this sound like a pitch, and that’s honestly not what I’m trying to do here. You just seem to me like the kind of person who would dig it.

This caught my attention, primarily for one reason: I don’t ever remembering ever writing down that boobs were the cure for zombie apocalypse comics. I mean it makes sense. Everything in the world that wouldn’t be made better by a nice set of cans! The Sistine Chapel? Better with boobs. The sinking of the Titanic? Better with boobs. Showgirls? Better with … uh…. OK, not everything.

Despite the shamelessly prurient tone of the e-mail, my curiosity got the best of me. I decided to check out the site. What harm could there be? Well, I was greeted by a picture of an unattractive pink haired girl with a bad case of Wolverine hair. NOW I was interested! You’re promised toplessness, but with a catch: you’ll have to watch the ugly chick get naked! It’s like a Faustian deal for perverts. It’s not necessarily the best marketing pitch in the world … but hot damn if it isn’t intriguing! Against my better judgment, I told Adam I’d give the comic a look-see after all.

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Horror stories are all the rage these days. Marvel Zombies was a hit, DC is following up with DC Zombies (a.k.a. Blackest Night) and Twilight is set to capture the hearts of girls and middle-aged women (including a mom I know who has an embarrassing crush on Edward Cullen) with its own manga. But you know what frontier remains yet to be untapped? Redneck horror.

Sure we’ve got the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses franchise. But how about exploring a world beyond serial killers? How about mashing up traditional European tales of the supernatural with beer guts, trucker caps, and mountains of chewing tobacco and buffalo wings. HBO’s True Blood is leading the way in stories about redneck bloodsuckers in the Deep South, augmenting a vampire morality play with the promise of seeing Anna Paquin’s boobs (which are, indeed, fabulous). Can this formula for success translate in comic form?

When we meet Locus (the name of our pink-haired heroine; possibly the feminine spelling of “Locutus”), she’s crashing a bar in an act of payback for the murder of her dad. She snarls, baring her fangs: a vampire? We learn later that she’s got bat wings and antennae, too. Weird. Anyway, she and some biker who doesn’t have the common sense to wear a shirt get into a spitting match. Locus takes of her clothes for some reason, exposing her fun bags for all to see, and we get to catch an old fashioned half-naked redneck bar brawl!

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So why is Locus so quick to chuck her shirt before every fight? The easy answer is “a cheap grab at readership.” Locus, though, exposes her puppies with such a grim game face and a look of deadly determination that I’m sure there’s more to it than that. No one ever sexually leers at her while she’s exposing herself … or even says something like, “Son of a gun, girl! Hide ya shame! I don’t know what you been hearin’, but this here ain’t no Turkish bath!” In addition, every single woman in the comic seem to all be exhibitionists, each and every one of them implying that nudity is serious business. Does Locus gain mystical powers through her cleavage? Or is it simply for athletic functionality, and Locus just didn’t have the cash to spring for a decent sports bra? (She clearly isn’t holding down any sort of day job.) Whatever it is, bare bosoms seems to be status quo in Locus‘ world, where even her dad doesn’t have a problem with a big old naked hug.

Locus tours with a dude named Uncle Spook who wears a smiley-faced theater mask and an Alice Cooper fright wig. The cunning disguise hides the fact that, under the mask, he looks like Abe Vigoda. Spook seems to doing well for himself, what with his topless wife and his fancy home up in the mountains. Why he’s running around with a punk like Locus rather than curling up on his La-Z-Boy with the latest Barron’s, I have no idea. I’m sure that we’ll get the answer soon enough. Personal theory… Spook’s going through midlife crisis.

Did I mention that our bikers were all werewolves? Frankly, I don’t think there are any normal, God-fearing people in the comic. Locus’s world is filled with demons, devil worshippers, and undead women. You could argue that the latter are zombies, except that they’re a lot hotter and way more naked. Not to be out-done, Locus doffs her top to do battle with these women, only to lose an arm in the process. Well, that’s nothing that full-frontal nudity and a healthy dose of Satanism can’t cure!

So why is Locus tearing through an entire cast of Hammer Film Production extras, anyway? Vengeance is part of it, but even her own dear departed dad tells her not to let that cloud her mind. Her real mission is to
kill everyone who touched her sword
. Simple enough! Frankly, I’m on a similar crusade to kill everyone who stole my coffee change. Locus’ mission is more dire, though: the sword, like the frogurt, is cursed.

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The art in Locus reminds me of the artists from the old Valiant Comics print: John Dixon, Pam Eklund, Bob Wiacek, to name a few. While these good folks will never become household names, let alone make AV Club’s 21 Comic Book Artists Who Changed the Industry List, their illustrations were still fairly serviceable. The down-key style worked for Valiant: story there was always the number one priority, and the less flashy art, with the exceptions of Barry Windsor-Smith and current Marvel editor Joe Quesada, was secondary.

In Locus‘ case, there really is no story. Now, given the fact that this resembles an old drive-in horror movie, this is not necessarily a bad thing! All I really need to know is “Girl needs to kill everyone; does so.” It works to move the story forward, and it reminds us not to take anything seriously. (If anything, Mr. Black presents us the heavy metal version of horror, the world conjured in our minds when you browse the cover of a Black Sabbath album.) But the rather generic story, combined with the standard looking presentation, doesn’t persuade me to keep coming back… despite the promise of more ample bosoms. Even that seems to be pushed aside in recent pages that favor man junk … yes, I want to see that. Locus could’ve used that flashiness. I wished the fight scenes were more dynamic, the supernatural scenes were spookier, and the color palette were less reminiscent of a 1990’s comic book and more gothic and unsettling. A small touch of joie de vivre, you know what I’m saying?

I could barely remember the plot by the time I reached the end of Locus. Adam Black set out to improve the genre by adding boobs to his horror comic, but instead he’s really adding horror to his boob comic. Several important details escape me. What was Locus, for example? Was she a succubus? A succubus-vampire hybrid? Half-human and one-quarter succubus, one-quarter vampire?

My memory is hazy on the details. However, I do remember that Locus had a rack. Oh yes, she had a rack.

Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)

Posted in 3 Stars, action webcomic, adult webcomic, fanservice, horror webcomic, The Webcomic Overlook, WCO Big Review, webcomics Tagged: Locus