Welcome to Perry Como’s Nightmare

The Last Temptation, written by Neil Gaiman and Alice Cooper, illustrated by Michael Zulli (1994; this edition 2001): Neil Gaiman in a very minor key, collaborating with Alice Cooper on a comic-book tie-in to Cooper’s 1994 concept album of the same name. It would probably help to own and listen to that album prior to, or contemporaneously with, this comic book. A 12-year-old boy gets tempted by a malign supernatural being called only the Showman (who looks like Alice Cooper in full make-up). Is the Showman a serial killer of children, the ghost of a serial killer of children, or the Devil himself? And what will happen on Hallowe’en?

Song lyrics are somewhat awkwardly wedged into various sequences in the comic. Both the Showman and David, the12-year-old protagonist, previously appeared in the 1970`s Cooper concept album Welcome to my Nightmare, which itself indirectly spawned a Marvel comic book starring Alice Cooper. Historically speaking, comic books and musical stars have never been a great fit, though the Superman comic book in which Lois Lane falls in love with Perry Como is hilarious.

The whole thing seems underwritten — David, the protagonist, isn’t so much unsympathetic as he is so sketchy a character as to be unidentifiable with on any but the most nebulous terms. Zulli’s B&W art is lovely, but would look better reproduced at at least normal comic-book size, rather than the trade paperback size of the available Dark Horse reprint volume. Very lightly recommended for Cooper fans, Zulli fans, and Gaiman completists.

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