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Afrodisiac

Posted: Wednesday, February 10, 2010
By: Ray Tate

Brian Maruca and Jim Rugg
Jim Rugg
AdHouse Books
In Afrodisiac, the super-pimp title character possesses the power to make any woman weak in the knees. All is not well and good, however, for his super-charisma also catalyzes conflict with such familiar fiends as Nixon and Dracula.

Spies, lesbians, and alien seductresses all fall at AfrodisiacĎs feet in a fistful of adventures. His encounter with death tops all. The last tale in the book suggests that being Afrodisiac is as much of a burden as it is a pleasure. His solution for a vampire problem is splatterific, and it's the perfect antidote to those ďsparklingď Twilight bastards. Readers looking for a giant-monster flick will not be disappointed.

Occasionally, Brian Maruca and Jim Rugg break the fourth wall--such as when a badly beaten Hercules, Afrodisiac, and his stable all laugh with the reader. The drama and comedy is varied, but the book always conveys the effect of being entranced by a seriously weird movie broadcast on a late night horror host show.

Afrodisiac is not meant be taken seriously. Instead, itís the story of a black Derek Flint sashaying through Hanna-Barbera cartoons as seen through the haze of NyQuil. A few readers may consider the book anti-feminist, but itís all too over-the-top to be taken seriously.

If readers compartmentalize their sense of humor to study the book soberly, the title character still observes one advantage over his blaxploitation brothers in vocation--Afrodisiac does not hurt women.

Unlike a traditional pimp--the enemy of such blaxploitation heroes as Isaac Hayesís Truck Turner and Pam Grierís Coffy--Afrodisiac does not physically abuse women, nor does he force them into prostitution.

You can argue that his power amounts to mental rape, but that argument does not hold under scrutiny. In one story, the feminized version of death wants to bed Afrodisiac. How can death succumb to the power of a mortal man? The women presented in the book have the willpower to resist the hirsute hero in the same way a normal person in reality can resist the power of love, but they simply choose not to.

The art in Afrodisiac by Street Angelís Jim Rugg bears some distinctive Jack Kirby influence as well as the underground sensibilities of the Hernandez Brothers, Mike Allred, and Charles Burns. Afrodisiac looks the very model of a 70s poster icon. The carnal champion oozes testosterone and blackness.

The parade of sensual women radiate unique beauty--and, despite the subject matter, not so much as a nipple makes an appearance. Death gets the most naked, and Iím not sure she counts.

Itís as though a mad movie editor spliced together snippets of the Shaft saga and psychotronic science fiction theater. Youíre either going to love Afrodisiac or hate it. Thereís no in between.

The book is made for grindhouse fans, but all can appreciate the artwork and the fact that this hardback with excellent paper stock is only fifteen dollars.



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