Comic Review: Belzebubs (2019)

Before being asked to cover this comic from Finnish writer JP Ahonen (who was also in the very short-lived Gothic metal act, Wolfpack ) I had seen a few strips in my social media feed and found them quite comical. I never really got into webcomics though, so I didn’t have the urge to go look at more of them. Thankfully, in partnership with Top Shelf (who also handles the majority of Alan Moore’s work now, so Ahonen, you managed to get your work published on the same label that handles one of the best damned writers in the comics medium, congratulations!) we have this collection of all the work done from their early beginnings all of the way up to the current era and the inclusion of drummer Sam”ael”. Putting it simply, Belzebubs is quite similar to those nuclear-family centered strips of old and revolves around both the band and vocalist Sloth’s family. This includes his wife Lucyfer and their children, Lilith and Leviathan.

Leviathan has a very interesting story as he began to have nightmares from watching Christian channels and even discovered that God himself was keeping an eye on the boy, whom his father had to chase out like some sort of perverted peeping tom. Chasing out the holy spirit didn’t seem to work however, as the strips with an adult Leviathan feature a very religious character of whom the family consider to be a black sheep. It’s peculiar to me as to why these older Leviathan strips are used so early on in the series, as it would have made for an interesting twist later on in the comic. But as it stands, Belzebubs is more about comedy bits and far less about coherent plots, even though there are a few strips that coincide with each other like the family trip to hell.

Unless you really take this stuff seriously (and if you honestly can’t have a sense of humor about black metal, Satanism and other subjects, then I think it’s time for a chill pill) you’re going to find the comic not only hilarious in the way that pokes black metal culture and lifestyle, but wonderfully charming in the same sense. Sloth and Lucyfer have a very devoted relationship, which is expressed quite a bit in the comics and mirrors the same kind of banter I’ve seen from other people in this culture. After all, love is love and not even the darkest and most evil shit there is can really change the way that humans feel about each other in pairbonding. Lucyfer is a stay at home mother, while Sloth scraps together what he can while working off-collar jobs as a mime. The band’s old drummer left because he had romantic feelings towards a Spanish fellow by the name of Jésus (he found Jesus – get it?) and had to be replaced by a drum machine and an old-fashioned blow up doll that lead guitarist Obesyx called “Beatrix.” Comically the doll blew away. It’s even used in the band’s new video for “Blackened Call” which I found a bit intriguing, even if it doesn’t completely classify as black metal. Sounds more like Insomnium, but I’m not going to bitch about it at current and will instead wait for the full record to state my opinions there. In my experience, this doll idea would have worked better if the band purchased one of the high-grade love dolls from our sponsor over Mon Amor Toujours, but I don’t think they had that kind of money in their budget. I barely did, to be honest.

Moving on from that, the comic also deals with teen romance. Mostly between Lilith and Sam. Sam’s a prog metal guy and sported both Porcupine Tree and Blackwater Park (because Opeth is apparently not willing to lend out their namesake even for a comic) tees. He later becomes the band’s drummer and can also be seen in the music video. The courting attempts between Lilith and Sam are both hilarious, especially when Eve becomes involved, a popular girl with an incredible ass that almost everyone in the school including Lilith’s BFF Blassie want to suck a fart out of. Heck, even the great and powerful demon that Lilith tried to summon to kill the girl went absolutely nuts when he saw her pictures online. So that didn’t work either. I found myself cracking up when Lilith went to the diner where Eve worked and asked for her head on a plate. Just classic stuff here, folks – this is definitely slice of life with a black metal edge.

I also want to mention a strip that I found just a little bit heartwarming, where a young Leviathan says, “I can’t sleep. There’s monsters under my bed!” To which his mother Lucyfer replies, “I know and you can play with them tomorrow.”

Truth be told, there is all manner of lovecraftian entities walking around the house at times, mostly looking for places to sleep. There was one strip where a monster was told to go sleep somwhere else, because Leviathan’s bed was full. Another strip that tickled me was when the monsters read Leviathan “Emperor‘s New Clothes” which is when the band decided to come out onstage completely naked, an idea which I’m sure had the real Ihsahn cracking up. I feel as though I may have already spoiled too much of the comic, but at well over a hundred pages, these are well worth checking out for yourselves.

The whole time I was reading Belzebubs I though to myself, “You know, this kind of black metal slice of life thing could work as a television series.” Keep in mind, Metalocalypse ran for several seasons. This is on a completely different level because it mixes family drama and teen drama along with the familiar package of band antics, which has a much broader appeal to people as a whole. While Metalocalypse was a great series and foot in the door for this kind of thing, Belzelbubs feels like the next logical step, namely a black metal version of The Simpsons, Family Guy or Bob’s Burgers. We’ve needed something like this for many years now and thankfully, we live in an age where something like this would actually be given a shot on streaming services or even syndicated networks. For those of you who are curious as to what this could look like, the video for “Blackened Call” that I’ve been mentioning in this article is completely animated and gives me hope for a series. Even if it the show had been recorded in the Finnish language, I would gladly watch it subtitled. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve watched something subbed, after all.

Regardless of the prospect of a television series, I think that open-minded people of all walks of life will find something to like here in Belzebubs. Maybe the music gig didn’t work out for Ahonen, but some of us are just meant for other things. If he’d continued playing in that Gothic act, we may have never got something as cheery and immersive as Belzebubs. You can tell that Ahonen has more than enough experience in this culture to be able to parody it in a way that people like myself who are actually a part of it, can sit back and laugh at ourselves. That’s a very humbling and necessary thing in today’s society, where we all take things far too seriously. Laughter is indeed the best medicine and it’s something that we really need right now. Without a doubt, Belzebubs will turn your corpse-painted frown upside down.

Here’s the video for “Blackened Call” from the forthcoming album Pantheon Of The Nightside Gods which will be released by Century Media on April 26th,2019.

Purchase Belzebubs HERE! (Top Shelf Official)

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