Slash Maraud #1 (November, 1987)
Writer/Co-Creator - Doug Moench
Artist/Co-Creator - Paul Gulacy
Colorist - Adrienne Roy
Letterer - John Costanza
Editors - Doug Moench & Andy Helfer
Cover Price: $1.75
Another weird book from the 80's... First time I saw this one, I was instantly reminded of the opening credits for Saved by the Bell. I almost expected Slash to start calling women "Momma" and the girl on the motorcycle to get hooked on caffeine pills.
Can it even hope to live up to such lofty expectations? Let's find out...
A trench-coated 1980's action hero is riding his motorcycle through the desert... on the horizon is a jungle. On his way there he passes a pile of what appear to be dinosaur bones... there's a good reason for that... because, you see... here there be dinosaurs.
Slash is trying to rescue a geeky Dodgers fan called Rover from a hungry mutated dinosaur. Slash manages to fire off a shot to the Saur's face, and it gives chase... in the clearing, a cluster of be-mouthed tentacles rise out of the ground, and begin eating the terrible lizard.
Once the beast stops twitching, the hungry Slash chops off a chunk of its tail to share with his new sidekick, Rover. While the pair dine over an open fire, their conversation takes a turn for the contentious. While discussing the current state of the Earth since the invading Shapers have begun occupying Rover accuses Slash of being a Fuzz-Licker, which is a derogatory term for a sympathizer to the alien invaders... and even comes at him with a blade. He mustn't know... but, ya don't step to Slash. Ol' Rover gets a fatal gouge to the gut for his troubles.
We shift to the Las Vegas strip. In the words of our narrator, it's hot and gaudy. We witness a small group of nuns get blasted by ray guns.
Inside a nearby club, a Monkey faced band entertains a group of unsavory patrons... including three fuzzy creatures wearing some kind of regal military garb. The Fuzzies choose a few girls for entertainment, and the "party' rolls on.
Outside, our man Slash is chatting up a scarred stripper, who warns him that there are Shapers inside... Slash continues inside anyway. We get a good look at several of the post-alien Invasion Las Vegas freaks lurking about as well, giving the story some great flavor.
Inside, Slash is approached by a blue-haired zebra-leotard clad waitress. They appear to already know each other, and Slash orders a drink... to be drank, upstairs.
Moments later, the waitress... who we learn is called Wild Blue, gives Slash some room service. While there they reconnect, and Blue proposes that he "save humanity" by ousting the Fuzzies.
Some background is given on the Shapers. The world they come from has become uninhabitable, and they have decided to remake the Earth in their image... leaving all of humanity with only five years left before the Earth is no longer hospitable to them. Blue shows Slash a picture of a man (Dr. X), hidden inside the bottle cap of his drink. This lends to the feeling that there is a measure of surveillance going on at all times. After a short kiss, Slash promises he'll be back in an hour with his answer.
We shift scenes to an asteroid. It's more Fuzzies... and they are questioning the effectiveness of their current Las Vegas contingent. We also get a neat scene showing how the reshaping of the Earth is actually well under way.
Shortly, the new Fuzzies land in Vegas and approach the old guard. They express concern that they aren't quite as effective as they should be... and draws mention of their indulgent behavior. Commander Sarkh, of the old guard explains that they have done everything asked of them... but for the moment, they're bored.
New alien Kargh decides to relieve them of their duties... which Sarkh is more than happy with. One of them starts vaporizing fools, including a woman whose "kisses reeked". I really wish the aliens were given a bit more identifiable features, as when they're grouped, it's nearly impossible to tell them apart and notice just who's doing what.
The "reeky kiss" comment seemed to trigger something in our man Slash... and he returns to Blue. Once inside, he breaks his beer bottle over the back of her head. She was, in fact, a Shaper! The two do battle until the real (and bound) Wild Blue bursts out of a closet and helps finish the Fuzzy off.
Slash and the real Wild Blue reconnect, and Slash tells her that he's on board for the plan. The Shapers begin their attack on the pair, and Slash blows a hole in the floor through which they can escape... or can they...
This was a lot of fun. In a way, it kind of turns the standard alien invasion/occupation story on its ear. I really like the idea of the aliens getting bored while waiting for the "master plan" to go down. It's a new angle (at least to me) on this type of tale. You'd have to figure, at some point... they'd run out of things to do "on assignment" and would have to amuse themselves by whatever means available.
Our introduction to the titular Slash Maraud was well done. From what we learn, he's a bit of a problem-solver. He saves that goofball Rover, and we come to find that he was a few Fuzzies under his belt. If what Sarkh says is true, that makes Slash a one-in-a-million threat to the designs of the invading Shapers.
The world being reshaped is an interesting touch... I like having dinosaurs within driving distance to a large city. It really opens the world up to be explored and fleshed out... really, under these "rules" the sky is the limit for what Slash may encounter... I really like that.
Two things that were kind of confusing to me... and I'll concede it may be my density here. I alluded earlier, but the Shapers looking exactly alike really made it difficult (for me) to follow the later nightclub scene. Also, Slash's reeky kiss... are we to believe that the first Wild Blue (the one that he kissed) was a Fuzzy in disguise? Or was that the real deal... and if so, whose kiss "reeked"?
I have no complaints about the writing nor the art. Both suit the story quite well. Slash's character design is fitting in a 1980's action hero kinda way, and I really like the look of the Shapers. The "world building" montage by Gulacy was awesome! I just love stuff like that. He also did a wonderful job evoking the grit of an enslaved (and somewhat demented) human race... just great stuff! I'm interested to see how this one pans out... definitely worth a grab if you come across it. I doubt it will ever be collected, so this will be a single-issue hunt. Shouldn't be all that difficult to find, and isn't likely to hurt the wallet.