Princess of Darkness
(six issue limited series)
You probably wouldn't expect to be thinking about modern myths and fairy tales after reading reading an adult comic, but it's here, amidst horrific erotica, in Princess of Darkness.
Eros Comix reprints 10 chapters of this previously serialized Japanese strip, detailing Maki Kurohara's journey towards a super-human womanhood through twisted rites of passage. Giving nods to traditional fairy tale motifs, Princess of Darkness tells how a meek schoolgirl "pulls a Pandora" by freeing an enthusiastically vengeful female genie from an ancient tome.
The first half of this series follows a demented pattern of rape and revenge. Every time unlucky Maki is brutalized, El Hazzared, the Genie, springs into big-busted, vengeful action. By Maki's sixth rape, Princess of Darkness seems to be droning on a bit too predictably, with Maki getting brutalized, then the seemingly protective Maki showing up (always just a little too late), ready to slice up Maki's tormentors. El Hazzared has some ties with Hell and other dimensions, so she takes off now and then, leaving Maki prone to get caught up in one disturbing mess after another. For the two-dimensional voyeur's scorepad: by the middle of the series' run, Maki's been raped by a schoolmate's boyfriend, raped by a doberman, raped with a rock by a demon, and raped on prime-time television while being hostaged by bank robbers. (There's more, too.)
By far, the doberman rape scene in issue three makes my short list of Most Disturbing Comix Sequences Ever. That scene alone could make an interesting article/digression and is a unique litmus test in gauging someone's gross-out level. By the fifth page of this dog thing, Maki admits, "Disgusted by my own undeniable pleasure, by the time I was showered with its stinking cum, my mind and will were broken, and I was a slave to the beast and his cock!" And that's a good quote to read aloud on the bus.
Maki finds true love in Taka, a young artist who gets zombified and raped by Morgeth, the Devourer, in issue four. Pushed along by her genie mentor, a pissed Maki awakens mysterious powers hidden in her psyche to step into her role of a super-human princess of darkness. This is when Maki starts kicking some major Morgeth.
Like all fairy tales, even the twisted ones have happily twisted endings. I don't know if it's the translation from Japanese to English or if it's an editing flaw, but the end of Princess of Darkness seems clunky and rushed.
Oalos, a heavy-hitting villain, pops up out of nowhere as Maki's final test, and zombie-boy Taka is suddenly reborn as a buff warrior for the series' climax.
A combination of incredible artwork, graphic sequences, and bits of excellent comic relief make this six-issue fantasy series a fast-paced, spellbinding read.
Thanks to Portland's Bad Kitty Outlet (310 SW 9th) for letting me review these, and for having an adult comics section.