Saturday, October 16, 2010

Out of the Vault - Tarot, Witch of the Black Rose #18

So after having written about Vampirella, the vampire-stripper, last week, I figured I'd just run out the string through Halloween with more cheesecake stripper-witches. First up: Tarot, Witch of the Black Rose #18. She's not technically a stripper, I guess--at least, no strip club appears in the two issues I own--but she spends most of every issue nude, so that's got to count for something.

Anyway, I saw the issue in my comics store several years ago, and I was bored with all my usual stuff and I thought the cover illustration looked hot, so why not give it a try? Right?

This issue is a fill-in between whatever plot point happened before and a four-issue story arc that would begin next issue, so nothing consequential happens. But the inconsequential stuff is crazy.

It opens with a bunch of fairies stealing the diaries of three of the series' characters--Tarot, Raven Hex, and Boo Cat--in hopes of reading titillating secrets, as revealed by clumsy, insufferably "cute" dialogue.

Tarot's diary excerpt is up first, where she tells us how she became a sword maiden of Wicca, a ritual that requires her to be nude except for a horned fetish mask. She goes forth to battle a familiar-looking enemy.

From the fiery eye comes forth a huge-breasted demonic enemy called, I shit you not, a "Gal-rog." And as Tarot fights, the captions go on and on about how this fetish fight is actually a symbolic struggle against prejudice or some such preachy bullshit.

Even the fairies are bored, so they switch to Raven Hex's diary, in which she describes the trials and travails of having big tits. Which sounds like a feminist cry for understanding and acceptance and a condemnation of artificial standards of beauty which damage girls' self-esteem, but is mainly an excuse for Jim Balent (the writer-artist) to draw several pages' worth of big tits--as if he needed one, since that's apparently what the entire series is about--which leads to this heart-warming self-affirmation.

"With these great breasts comes great power..."

It's high drama worthy of Flaxen. Anyway, the fairies are still bored, and so turn to the final diary, and at this point, I'm wondering what other tiresome, preachy feminist sentiment Balent can cheapen with gratuitous nudity.

But no, there's no preaching in this one. Instead, it's wacky hijinx as the flighty lesbian Boo Cat relates the tale of how she first met Tarot.

And this is really interesting, because it's a guy writing a female character indulging in the kind of drooling behavior that, if the character were a man, would be depicted as creepy or pathetic or simply gross. But since it's a female, the ogling and innuendo are supposed to be flirty and funny and fascinating.

That night, Boo Cat follows Tarot home and molests her in her sleep, even bringing her to a "full purr." And again, if the character were male, this would be rape...

And in the end, the fairies and I are disappointed with the stories. But I did buy another issue, just because I figured fill-ins are always a let-down, and maybe once the proper storyline got back on track, it'd be better.

It wasn't. It wasn't as bad as it would eventually get, but it wasn't good enough to bring me back for a third issue. Although unlike most of the comics I cover in Out of the Vault, this one is still going. And it would be bad form not to mention that Balent's art is decent, although I'm guessing that colorist Holly Golightly's digital painting is what makes this comic a continuing success. Her work is really quite nice. She's also hot, which never hurts.

Next week, the cavalcade of Stripper-Witches continues with Willow.

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