Sometimes a comic book takes you to places you didn’t think you’d go. In the case of Dark Horse’s Slayer: Repentless, it’s into some thrash metal videos, linked together that tell the backstory of the comic book. (Though it’s probably the other way around — the comic continues the story started by Hatchet III director BJ McDonnell.) This isn’t the first rock comic to use an album as its launching point, but it really is one of the best.
The book by Jon Schnepp, Guiu Villanova, and Mauricio Wallace may not make you fans of the band, but their dark vision translates well into the pages of a searing crime comic. It’s extremely violent (as are the videos), telling the all too timely story of two brothers in an American Nazi movement. Wyatt looked to leave it behind, but his brother Adrian could not let him live in peace.
That forms the backdrop for the Dark Horse comic, with bits and pieces of the videos referenced throughout the first issue. That doesn’t mean you have to know them — Schnepp’s script propels the story forward, with Villanova and Wallace’s art infusing a gritty feel that Glenn Fabry’s cover is almost too pretty for. (And when you look at that cover — it’s not pretty.)
Slayer: Repentless isn’t for the squeamish nor for people particularly optimistic about humanity. But it’s well-written, occasionally echoing lines from the album’s songs without stopping the relentless (and yes, repentless) pace of its story. If you’re a fan of shows like Sons of Anarchy, but thought they should be louder, this is a book for you. And if you just admire well done comics no matter what the genre, then welcome to Repentless.