written by Doug Wagner
Co-written and illustrated by Brian Stelfreeze
written by Chuck Dixon
Illustrated by Hugh Haynes and Phil Noto
Sex and violence. Bullets and orgasms. Catfights and patricide. Prostitutes and murder. This is a decidedly non-code approved comic book. And that’s part of what makes it so fun. Guncandy/The Ride is a flip book with two stories that don’t seem to be related. On the Guncandy side, beautiful Laci is on a killing spree, trying to find out who her father is. While on the flip side, the death of a prostitute and a pair of murderous newlyweds leads to an intense tale featuring a guy in a dog mask.
I’m tempted to leave my review right there and not delve into the depths of these two stories. On one level they’re sheer, spectacular, exploitative fun. Who can’t enjoy a beautiful girl in a schoolgirl outfit with big guns and insane fighting abilities? Remember the scene in Kill Bill with the insanely long battle with the ninjas? The Guncandy half of this comic is a lot like that, only with a little more sex thrown in. “At least you got between my legs before you died” indeed! It also reads a bit like a satire of Warren Ellis’s more violent comics. Just as in Reload, there’s a lot of gunplay, some spectacular artwork, a bit of sex, and some questionable morality. But this comic takes things to a higher level of satire. There’s a Zen master, but there’s a hilarious twist around what exactly he’s mastered. There’s a great battle between Laci and a female assassin, with all the crotch shots and high-fitting clothes you could want, but everything is over the top, a bit silly.
Somehow for me the key defining characteristic of Laci is the knee brace that she wears. There’s something somehow funny about the juxtaposition of that with her schoolgirl outfit, a kind of wink to the reader by artist Brian Stelfreeze that Laci’s just playing and having fun. Loosen up, he seems to say, nobody important will get hurt. Stelfreeze walks a fine line, but always lands on the humorous side.
Next to something as outrageous as Guncandy, The Ride half of the book has to suffer. The story starts out oddly funny, as our protagonist finds his girl in bed with another man. Rob Haynes somehow manages to make the murder and anger funny, with his loose and cartoony style. After the murder, the character puts on a costume – this is in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, so it’s not too strange, and seems to be getting away with things until he steals a car that some nasty honeymooners want, too. Their story has echoes of the Tarantino movie True Romance, as the sexy couple almost gets away with their crime. It’s a funny story – I really liked the guy in the dog mask – but it lacked the intensity of the Guncandy side of the book. Though the last page is spectacular!
This comic offers two demented stories for the price of one. I notice that I reference Quentin Tarantino twice in this review, so it seems clear: if you’re a Tarantino fan, and don’t mind a little satire with your sex and violence, this is a really fun comic. If, however, Tarantino turns you off, stay away from this comic.