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Just when John Constantine was starting to be a bit rumpled, along comes another nattily dressed smart-ass who does business with the unholy darkness; this time, he's a little closer to being one of them. Templesmith's Wormwood is a preternaturally cheery corpse with an ever-present cigarette and pentagram tattoo on his forehead to match the psychotic grin. In this debut, the gentleman corpse comes across a plot by a cabal of demons to infiltrate the world of humans and generally lay waste to it all in the nastiest way possible. With a game pair of sidekicks—the hulking robot Pendulum and lithe punk assassin Phoebe—Wormwood does battle with a full complement of foul netherworld beasties. This material could come off as rank at worst and derivative at best, just another horror comic with a yen for desecrated corpses. But in a wry manner, Templesmith (30 Days of Night) tweaks a surprising amount of humor out of the overdone scenarios, cloaking it all in darkly layered and intricate art that recalls Criminal Macabre. One assumes more Wormwood tales will follow, along with more people suffering from, as a policeman refers to it, "extreme cases of, uh, death." (Apr.)
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