Cinema Purgatorio #14
I feel quite ambivalent about this book these days. I’m glad it exists, but at the same time it feels like it’s spinning its wheels a lot lately.
This issue is a good example. The lead strip by Moore and O’Neill takes a similar tack to many of their earlier stories, outlining the life and times of a Hollywood figure (in this case, Tod Browning). It’s interesting but is told a bit too ‘straight’ for me - almost like reading a Wikipedia entry with beautiful illustrations. Earlier efforts had mixed these life stories with a more interesting angle or clever structure, but this one didn’t grab me in the same way.
Code Pru, usually a standout, is a bit weak this time around too - more of a ‘downtime’ story that moves along a subplot, rather than the usual clever spin on a horror archetype (although there are hints in that direction towards the end here).
Modded is probably the most fun entry this issue. As usual, it’s a mix of fantasy weirdness with videogame tropes and references, and there’s a wonderful lurid sequence here that takes us on a trip through what feels like Mario and Sonic’s nightmares.
As for the other two strips - A More Perfect Union and The Vast - they’re worth reading for Gabriel Andrade’s art, but I don’t feel like I get much out of them story-wise. The former feels like an endless parade of samey battle scenes, and the latter has some cool big-monster action sequences but next to no story progression from issue to issue.
When the book comes out so infrequently (#13 came out in January, and #12 before that in October) it needs to be great every time to keep excitement levels up, and the truth is that despite a generally high level of craft on these stories, I’m not sure it’s as essential a read as it once was, especially at US$6.99 a pop.
I’ll still buy the next issue and hope that this latest one was just a blip, but part of me is wondering whether it’s time to wind this anthology up now.