For nearly thirty years, the name Slayer has been synonymous with some of the most controversial and brilliant heavy metal to ever exist. As a pioneer of thrash metal, the group has cause plenty of ruckus, both positive and negative. But there’s no denying the impact they’ve had on the world, and now they’re looking to expand their influence with the release of their first comic book series, Repentless.
Used to coincide with the release of their latest album and expanded from the trio of videos shot for the album, Repentless follows what has become a pretty typical path for Slayer as a group: jumping into controversial and hard-to-look-at topics with their trademark style of brutal, violent, and graphic images that are meant to invoke thought and introspective.
This series focuses on two brothers, Adrian and Wyatt, as the story of their checkered past is presented in all its gruesome glory. Wyatt steps away from the Neo-Nazi upbringing he and his brother were raised in. Despite his rough past, Wyatt has since rebuilt his life, only for Adrian to come for him as a punishment for abandoning his family, his roots, and their supremacist cause.
This is a tough book to read. The subject matter is one that is always subject to criticism, controversy, and vitriol, and for good reason. The rise and continuation of the Supremacist movement is one of the most hateful and terrifying pieces of world history, and it’s depicted in all its monstrous madness here. The actions of Adrian and the Nazi state are full of racial vocabulary and violent acts, forcing Wyatt to react in kind.
Written by Jon Schnepp of Metalocalypse fame, this is not a book for the faint of heart. While fans of the band will no doubt love the no-holds-barred take on the Nazi movement and its actions, this is a tough subject to broach, and Schnepp doesn’t make it easy. Artist Guiu Villanova does an excellent job of creating an exaggerated state of brutality, bringing a general unease that, combined with a fascinating if not unorthodox story, makes for a book that fans of the overall aura should really love.
It’s not without its flaws, as it’s a bit hard to follow, but, overall, fans of the band should be really thrilled to see Slayer take a jump into a new medium. I’m not certain it’ll have more than a niche audience, but those who can hold the thread and enjoy the many things it has to offer will be satisfied. It will be very interesting to see where this series goes.