“There’s been a spate of pop star murders in Scene City and everyone knows who’s to blame…”
I’m yet to read Babezilla’s Scene City predecessors, Impossibly Emo and The Curse of Jimi’s Axe, but would look forward to doing so on the basis of this installment. Scene City 3: Babezilla comes a whole two years after Scene City 2, which for fans of the first two installments must amount to an agonizing wait.
While Scene City 3 is admittedly my first taste of Orful Comics’ Rob Cureton’s quirky and off-beat world, I felt at home from the first page. With infectious tongue-in-cheek names like Alicia Gorgeous and Brittina Lovely, thinly-veiled caricatures of well-known and much-reviled celebrities of our fatuous pop-culture age (a suitably villainous take on everyone’s favourite hate-figure Simon Cowell, for example, and a delightful Britney Spears meets The Bride from Kill Bill amalgamation), as well as Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler as Mayor (!) of Cureton’s sartorial dystopia, it’s no difficulty to slip into the swing of things here. Babezilla Part 1 is an adamantium-clawed attack on the mainstream – and who wouldn’t gladly get behind that?
Cureton’s slightly Futurama-esque artwork entirely matches his incisive thematic tone, the first striking image being of the Babezilla herself in her gestation tank, letting the reader know they’re in for an aptly cynical take on what passes for modern pop culture, across pages brimming with entirely appropriate distaste for the vacuousness of our modern cultural wasteland, particularly the real-world monstrosity of the TV pop star – in this case literally a monstrosity: a twenty-first century Frankenstein’s monster.
It’s Attack of the 50ft Woman meets Pop Idol meets Godzilla, the Babezilla in question being an artificially created pop thing who… well, for the sake of not dropping spoilers, let’s just say who ‘goes wrong’. As you might imagine from such a premise, there are plenty of funny lines that would be at home in a more serious sci-fi setting, but here are played perfectly as tongue-in-cheek, serving as both comedy value and homage; for example, “Simon Cowbell” and his cohort, the Babezilla creator-scientist beholding their Beyonce-like pop monster, the moment infused with the same mock-gravity that characterizes the rest of the book (“We are well ahead of schedule”), as though it could just as easily be Emperor Palpatine and the creation of Darth Vader.
Other suitably droll moments are scattered across the pages; particularly funny is the unappreciated Emo Kid struggling to win over his corporate judge with his over-enthusiastically gloomy performance and typically Emo lyrics.
Scene City‘s Charlie Brooker-esque take on our tedious, real-world, twenty-first century celebrity clone wars conveyor-belt entertainment industry is not only a terrific piece of sub-culture for the paneled page, but feels like something that would work just as well being animated and put on Channel 4 some day (not to say that television is in any way preferable to comic page – I wouldn’t make that claim in a million years). And no doubt the best of Rob Cureton’s Scene City is yet to come.
Scene City 3: Babezilla (Part 1) is available for purchase on www.orfulcomics.co.uk as well as at Mega City and Orbital Comics in London.