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Succubus #1

Posted: Thursday, March 6, 2008
By: Steven M. Bari

Joe Gentile
Silvestre Szilagyi
Moonstone Books
Plot: The strobe light augments the room into strange shapes as lovers embrace, dancing to the beat of the music. Suddenly, another woman catches the corner of the man’s eye. She disappears but lingers with him all the way home. As the lovers fall asleep, the woman reappears, straddling her thighs around his body. Her work is an ancient ritual, a guilty indulgence of her baser instinct. But this man is without precedent – for unlike the others – he is awake and begs to know why she is doing this. Why?

Commentary: Succubus #1 is wonderful exploration into the world of the supernatural with sex, humor, and terrific art. With subject matter that treads the waters of Sandman and American Gods, fans of Neil Gaiman will enthralled. But for those unfamiliar with the above, Succubus is an accessible and entertaining comic about understanding one’s past and working towards a new future.

The woman, Sheba, is a succubus, a demon who draws energy from her victims by seducing them into sex. She has survived this way for millennia. But with emergence of this awakened victim, Sheba begins to wonder if she is doing what is right or what she only knows to be right. A psychiatrist skillfully mediates the dilemma by asking Sheba to replay the event, analyzing its significance, without disclosing her identity as the succubus.

Sheba’s quandary is exacerbated, however, when the agents of Heaven and Hell arrive. Both sides wish to attain an object she has, an object that may be her key to finding a new purpose in life. The plot device cleverly directs the rest of the series while giving her a focal point of defense and strength. Sheba walks the line between light and dark, in the hopes of discovering herself.

Like Sheba herself, her world is vibrantly rendered in dark moody shadows, beneath which is a high detail. As Sheba descends upon her victim, the objects on his nightstand, dresser, and floor are visible, grounding the event in reality, thus making it far uncannier. Szilagyi’s art is stylistically comparable to Dave Gibbons and Mike Dringenberg, melding surrealistic form with realistic object.

The highlight of the comic, though, is the characterization of Satan. He is a sadistic, tongue-in-cheek monster who drips with sarcasm and pop culture references. At one point, Satan whips out his camera phone and replays a fight between an angel and Sheba to great comedic effect. Similarly, the design is fitting, contrasting the character’s humorous tone with frightening imagery reminiscent of Giotto di Bondone’s The Last Judgment.

Overall, Succubus # 1 is a great start to a series that should be on every one’s pull list this May.

Final Word: A surprisingly inventive story! Seek and ye should buy!



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