Supernatural Law #45

By Batton Lash
32 pages, black and white
Published by Exhibit A Press

If you’ve ever read Batton Lash’s Supernatural Law before, you’ll know that over the years Lash has parodied a wide variety of subjects; horror movies, comic books, and the real world are all places that Lash has alluded to with his characters that are inevitably represented by Alanna Wolff and Jeff Byrd in the courtroom. You can imagine my surprise, then, when the new Supernatural Law showed up with the Toxic Avenger. Not a parody, not a thinly disguised version, but the real thing. And you know what? It made me wish that Lash could do this more often.

The Toxic Avenger, a mind-mannered janitor named Melvin Ferd turned into a radioactive freak thanks to a nasty prank, is being sued by the people of Tromaville who want him gone. Never mind that he saved its townspeople over and over again, and is the official defender of the town, they’ve had enough. So, poor Melvin has gone to the one group of lawyers who would dare a radioactive man in court…

I’ll admit that I was more than a little surprised to see that Lash had gotten permission to use the Toxic Avenger as well as the supporting cast from the movie by the same name. So many times in the past Lash has hung a lot of his story on his ability to parody other creations, with generally funny end results. What I found here, though, is that without having to focus on the humor coming out of the parody, Lash is able to use that wit in other directions. Getting to bring in the Toxic Avenger’s blind girlfriend to save the day, for instance, or discovering the fate of supporting cast members who were around the Toxic Avenger for too long is a real natural progression; it doesn’t matter if you’ve ever actually seen the movie or not (I must admit I haven’t!), because Lash makes it feel so natural that it wasn’t until I was done with the comic that a trip to Wikipedia showed me just how Lash had managed to use the source material to his advantage.

That’s not to say that there are no parodies, mind you, but it’s much lower in number. A funny appearance by a thinly-disguised Stephen Hawking aside, though, I found myself much more amused by the additional room for twists and turns. A strange quirk of the prosecutor being a self-described "chubby chaser" ends up being a plot point that actually works, and the climactic final scene is a perfect take on a B-movie ending that feels right at home here. While Supernatural Law is always a lot of fun, I have to admit that Lash showing he can tell a good story without having to resort to humor based on parody has really made him rise up in my opinion. It’s a great change of pace for him.

Lash’s art is entertaining as always. I’m still continually amazed by Wolff’s hair and it’s unique triangle-shaped coiffure, and based on the research I did afterwards, he nails the look of the Toxic Avenger and the rest of Tromaville pretty well. While scenes with a lot of characters usually result in the background people looking a little underfleshed out, when it comes to the people in the foreground Lash handles them quite nicely, from smirk to befuddlement with the greatest of ease.

Supernatural Law #45 is another good, solid comic from Lash; a new issue is always guaranteed entertainment. And while I do love his parodies (when he hits them just right, they’re dynamite) I have to say that I’m hoping down the line he can get permission for another appearance by a "real" character (if you know what I mean); his parodies are good, but Supernatural Law #45 just goes to show that his actual stories are strong too. Good stuff.

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