Chaos! Comics was one of the surprising successes of the 90’s. Brian Pulido and Steven Hughes created their own publishing company as a home for their expanding range of characters. The name is mostly associated with T&A Bad Girl horror comics, one of the most well known characters being Lady Death. There were several other Bad Girl characters including Purgatori, Chastity and Jade amongst others. Evil Ernie is one of the most well known characters outside of the Bad Girl pantheon that Chaos! Comics are known for.
These characters would feature in intertwined stories often first appearing in one title before getting their own. Squarely aimed at older teen male readers chock full of violence and scantily clad anti-heroines, they were crass and lurid but that was part of the appeal and they were a big hit.
Lady Death became the archetype for a whole subgenre of comics pretty much.
When Bad Girl comics went out of favour though Chaos! Comics went into decline and then bankrupt, with Pulido selling the rights to the characters. They eventually ended up at Dynamite with the exception of Lady Death which went to Avatar.
Chaos is Dynamite’s first publication featuring the characters (aside from a mini series featuring Evil Ernie) written by Tim Seeley with art from Mirka Andolfo.
The story, as explained in a foreword, is a war of attrition between three different factions with Earth the battleground. Purgatori the vampire goddess seeks revenge against nemesis Mistress Hel and her accomplice Evil Ernie who are trying to bring about the apocalypse whilst The Chosen – a group of supernatural mortals – face off against both factions and the various creatures they employ.
There’s some great potential with so many colourful and twisted characters to play with so it’s disappointing that this is so underwhelming. Seeley is the creator and writer of Hack/Slash ,the popular long running horror title, which makes it all the more disappointing. Introducing a host of characters in a single issue is always tricky and readers not familiar with the characters will find themselves somewhat lost, wondering just exactly who’s who and what’s going on due to a disjointed narrative.
Introducing the majority of your characters at the end of your first issue is a rather bizarre move narratively speaking and seemingly indicates that Seeley is just expecting readers to know who these characters are and not expecting anyone who isn’t a fan of old Chaos! Comics to pick it up .
The art from Mirka Andolfo fails to impress for the most part lacking definition and the murky colours courtesy of Walter Baiamonte really don’t help matters.
Updating Chaos! Comics characters wasn’t going to be easy without taking away the reasons they were so popular in the first place, i.e gratuitous T&A art and brutal violence. Chaos! Comics aren’t remembered for their in depth multi-layered narratives this should be crass and bad taste and gory but this is sanitised, bland and rather toothless. There’s definitely a market for (im)mature horror comics even if it’s as a Guilty Pleasure , Avatar publishes several.
Chaos could’ve been a flagship title for Dynamite but fans of old Chaos! Comics will be left wanting and new readers will just be bewildered.
One of the biggest ironies is a host of great artists have provided excellent covers including J. Scott Campbell, Carlos Rafael, Monte Moore and Tim Vigil amongst others.