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Devil With A Pleated
Voodoo Maverick Publishing
Kevin Forest Moreau
Just as Buffy the Vampire Slayer initially served as a cutting
metaphor for high school adolescence, so might Mathilda be read as an
acknowledgment of the particularly evil nature of pre-adolescent kids.
Granted, that might be reading a bit too much into this first issue, but
writer/artist Walley's choice of an eight-year-old girl as his demonic
protagonist does strike one of those "Why didn't someone think of this
before?" chords. (Before we go any further, we must in the interests of
fairness point out that Walley moonlights as Shaking Through's own advice
columnist, the Vatican Assassin.)
The premise is simple enough: Satan's firstborn has what might be described
as a change of heart and sells his soul to God, who reincarnates the former
leader of Hell's armies as a third grade schoolgirl, the better to
understand the human experience. For a guide, Mathilda gets saddled with
Baker, a disheveled fallen angel looking to re-earn his wings and rekindle
his flagging faith. At the same time, Satan dispatches an impish demon to,
er, bedevil his son in the form of Mathilda's stuffed panda Bela.
The players thus introduced, Mathilda crosses paths with a grizzled vampire
hunter investigating demonic disturbances around the local neighborhood.
Mathilda #1 does little more than set the stage for what follows, but it
does so clearly and with a minimum of cumbersome exposition. Walley's spare
linework deftly straddles the book's thin line between humor and horror,
with a heavy reliance on shading and solid blacks filling any imagined holes
created by its stark black-and-white atmosphere.
While it's a bit premature to judge the story based on what unfolds here,
it's worth noting that Walley admirably avoids milking too many easy and
obvious laughs from his set-up, refusing to sacrifice his appealing premise
on the altar of expedient buffoonery. By his own admission, it's anyone's
guess when the author/artist will get around to cranking out the next issue,
but Mathilda #1 succeeds in generating interest in whatever
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