Review – Toe Tag Riot #3 (Black Mask Studios)

NOV141059Publisher: Black Mask Studios
Writer: Matt Miner
Artist: Sean Von Gorman
Release Date: 11th February, 2015

For those of you who aren’t up to speed on this Black Mask Studios series, here are the cliff notes; Toe Tag Riot are a punk band of misfits who have been cursed to turn into zombies – temporarily, at least – every time they play. Admirably though, in an effort to try and manage their ‘hunger’, they have decided to channel these urges against people who – in their own words – probably deserve to be eaten.

Okay, cards on the table – this is a comic that is almost entirely devoid of subtlety. Serving as writer Matt Miner’s metaphorical middle finger to the bigots, racists and homophobes of the world, he and artist Sean Von Gorman take great amounts of pleasure in unleashing Toe Tag Riot on some of the world’s most universally hated organisations; Neo-Nazis, One Million Moms, and now… Dudebros? Hey, it works for us, and with what promises to be a brutally violent showdown with the Westboro Baptist Church just around the corner, this is most definitely a comic that wears its opinions on its sleeve.

This third issue gives us a little more of an insight into the origins of the band’s current situation, as we get to witness their first, post-curse, “transformation” and their understandably shocked reactions. The main characters are interesting enough, if a little superficial, but once again the addition of Fall Out Boy’s Andy Hurley – for no real reason – feels like the kind of unnecessary celebrity cameos they used to shoe-horn into certain dodgy sit-coms. Intriguing, sure, but ultimately pointless.

Sean Von Gorman’s grungy, ‘zine style artwork plays perfectly into the distinctive punk rock vibe of the series. The detail is lacking somewhat, and there’s quite a deviation between how certain characters look from panel to panel, but then, that’s not really the point here.  The violence is gloriously over the top, complete with hilarious deaths and cheesy one-liners, and Sean manages to throw in yet another of his trademark two-page spreads here – with lashings of gore, of course.

Overall, while readers looking for a sophisticated breakdown of the social injustice and bigotry of the world are unlikely to find what they’re looking for here, those of us who just want to see a Dudebro pumped so full of steroids that his arm explodes are in for an absolute treat. It may be a little ‘on the nose’ at times, but this is a worthy message delivered with all the subtlety of a Doc Marten to the groin. Highly recommended, providing you’re willing to look past the superficial flaws.

Rating: 4/5.

576682_510764502303144_947146289_nThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson (aka Ceej)
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