Are you looking forward to a new comic book but it’s impossible for you to wait for its release before you know what we thought about it? That’s why there’s DoomRocket’s Advanced Reviews — now we assess books you can’t even buy yet. This week: ‘Jazz Legend’ #1, out May 30 from Scout Comics.
By Mickey Rivera. Jazz and the occult make strange bedfellows, but the marriage of these two worlds isn’t completely unheard of. Since the genre’s inception it’s been accused of enchanting and bedeviling youths, of corrupting their minds with its pulsating syncopations and frantic harmonies. For fans, it’s always been clear that jazz has more in common with mystical glossolalia than with a neat and proper Christian sermon. Jazz Legend uses the dark spirituality and mystery inherent in jazz music as its backdrop. This six-issue miniseries is a blend of ominous Lovecraftian gloominess and urban noir.
Jazz Legend focuses on reckless and talented jazz musician Martin Comity. Martin is dedicated to two things: partying and playing his horn. He works for “Sweatpea,” owner of the War Room night club, an old re-purposed bomb shelter and “the city’s baddest black-owned jazz club […] Smack dab in the whitest part of town.” Martin gets himself in trouble too often to mention, drinking himself into oblivion, screwing every girl in sight, and getting into fights with people five times his size. Despite some big-sisterly advice from Sweatpea, Martin is set in his ways, convinced that his almost spiritual connection with music and his talent are unbreakable, even in the face of his corrosive lifestyle.
On the other side of the social spectrum we have an unnamed writer and shut-in who is referred to only as “The Storyteller”. The Storyteller attempts to summarize the plot for the reader, starting at the beginning of time and ending with Sweetpea hiring Martin. He seems to have inside knowledge of the deep dark forces that are coalescing around Martin, a “darkness” that follows him. The Storyteller’s main hobbies are drinking whiskey, writing strange stories about the history of the universe, soliciting male prostitutes, and stalking Martin at the nightclub so he can yell at him about the mysterious darkness following him.
Martin caps most nights off with a deep dose of some mind-altering kick. In this issue he tries something his dealer calls “The New Blue” — a kind of psychoactive Kool-aid powder you mix with water and trip balls on. This concoction transports him to a barren landscape, where a talking buzzard welcomes him as father. Before readers get a chance to wrap their heads around that, Martin encounters a glowing purple colossus that also thinks Martin is their dad. Then Martin is attacked by a humongous naked man with an octopus for a head. And the octopus-head’s tentacles are also snakes. And the snake-tentacles literally spit fire out of their mouths.
Some would call this a “bad trip,” but Martin’s ass is saved when… well, I’d say it doesn’t count as spoilers if you have no idea what the fuck it all means.
Taking the ride is different than having it described to you, and Jazz Legend may be a ride worth hopping on. It brings with it a lot of mystery and a lot of action in its first issue. Writer JC Lacek wove an underlying layer of urban seediness and cynicism into a tale of looming horror that’s likely to just get creepier and stranger. The art by Vasco Duarte, Cristian Docolomanski, and Patrick Gama has this cartoonish lightness about it that accentuates Lacek’s dark and at times violent sense of humor. It’s ultimately a satisfying read. This odd book from a team of under-the-radar creators is worth the asking price, especially if you like unknown horrors, substance abuse, feelings of impending doom.
Written by JC Lacek.
Pencils by Vasco Duarte.
Inks and letters by Cristian Docolomansky.
Colors by Patrick Gama.
7 out of 10
‘Jazz Legend’ hits stores May 30.