BOOK REVIEW: Kiss: Greatest Hits, Volume 5

BOOK REVIEW: Kiss: Greatest Hits, Volume 5

Kiss has released five volumes of their greatest hits, not of music, but graphic novels. Kiss has appeared in comics and graphic novels for over forty years. Their first comic book appearance was in issue #12 of Marvel’s Howard the Duck in May 1977, titled “Mind Mush!”. To make this, fifth and recent volume of greatest hits possible, a large team of thirteen people were involved, including writer Brian Holguin; pencils Clayton Crain; inks Kevin Conrad; colours by Ian Hannin with Brian Haberlin; letters Richard Starkings, John Roshell and Wes Abbott. Courtesy of IDW publishing, XS Noizewill guide you through this volume of greatest hits and see why there is such a demand to constantly see rock legends Kiss in graphic novel format.

This offering contains four stories from the Psycho Circus series. Two see Kiss as judge, jury and potential executioner, deciding the fate of individuals accused of committing “heinous” crimes. One sees Kiss in a very minute cameo role as part of a fable and another where Gene Simmons, “The Demon” makes a solo appearance. What is interesting is that Kiss is never referred to as Kiss. Any references to Kiss’s music, the instruments they play and Kiss playing live or rehearsing are not found.

The setting of each story often changes as does the time zone. The story where Gene Simmons makes a solo appearance is set during the reign of George III in England. The research that has gone into this story and the writer’s knowledge of England during this period is impressive. The fable set in Forlorn, New Hampshire, 1850 involving a Cat God festooned with emeralds has the ability to transport the reader not only into a gothic haunting fantasy tale; but into the nineteenth century.

Club Psycho, “a modern-day Temple to Dionysus” where “the fashionably disaffected strut and fret their idle hour against primal rhythms and flashing lights” is where the first modern-day tale begins. Identical twins, Iris and Ivy, both tall, attractive, dressed in black leather (seldom covering their flesh) and velvet gloves with tiger colour eyes are given tickets to an after party at Psycho Circus by a woman with pigtails dressed in red leather (which barely covers her body). The twins get separated. One sister wakes up, the other sister doesn’t. The unconscious sister comes across Kiss who ask her why she is now in their presence. She replies “yes, because I committed a crime” and must now stand trial for killing her step-mother.

In the other Kiss story, a Mr Makebelieve is accused of having “the blood of children on (his) hands”. We find the accused had a troubled childhood, raised by parents who taught him that “imagination is a dangerous thing”. He had “no toys, no games, no stories”. Nonetheless, this boy had a secret power where he could escape to any place he desired. Unfortunately, on one of his escapes, he met “The Frenzy” who possessed Mr Makebelieve and committed all the hideous crimes Kiss brought against him. Kiss are faced with a conundrum; how to deal with The Frenzy without punishing Mr Makebelieve.

In all the stories Kiss always come out on top. They are never outsmarted or defeated. The heroes and villains are always clearly identified and justice prevails. The artwork is colourful and dark as if you were inside an actual dark circus. Kiss: Greatest Hits, Volume 5 goes beyond the fantasy and escapism offered in, for example, The Beatles, Yellow Submarine. Kiss lose their association as band members, musicians and as a band to be wholly transformed into mythological, semi-divine folklore beings as well as vigilantes. This has made Kiss immortal, allowing their comic book legacy to continue for over forty years.

Get your copy of Kiss: Greatest Hits, Volume 5 by going to https://www.idwpublishing.com/product/kiss-greatest-hits-vol-5/

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