Review by Ian Keogh
Ryan Ferrier and Valentin Ramon begin with the premise that Hell isn’t the flames, demons with pitchforks and brimstone that everyone assumes. Sure, that’s there, but it’s only a part of the process, as irredeemable bad boy Teddy Graham discovers when he snorts his final line and drops into the pit. His hell is a never ending therapy session where he’s supposed to confront the failings of his Earthly life. Supervision is kind of slack, though, and if you hit your sessions and keep to the other rules, then there’s not any great reason you can’t continue as before. Oh yeah, heaven and hell worked out their differences some while back.
Initially it seems as if Ferrier is just indulging his teenage frat boy, channelling memories from a stoned “what’s the most disgusting thing you could ever do?” challenge, giggling all the way, but once that’s out of his system Hot Damn really hits the metal. It remains disgusting, good taste discarded on the first page, and it’ll take you by surprise, so keep that bucket handy, but it becomes funnier and funnier without ever transcending the puerile. Hell, that’s some recommendation right there.
You never know whether any little visual asides are artistic inspiration or in the script, but Ramon includes so many, it’s safe to assume he’s responsible for those choice little extras. His Hitler, Starlin and Mao Zedong reductions are extremely disturbing, and the Cherubim? Ugh!, but just part of the incidental detail Ramon throws into almost every panel. Perhaps he was seeing out some personally accrued Hell time given the sheer amount of hours he must have spent on every page, in which case is he personally familiar with some of the random tortures he features? Let’s hope not because he’s the best comic artist you’ve never heard of before.
Teddy’s arrival in Hell coincides with a change in heaven, the first in millennia, and if it’s revealed that the shit hitting the fan is served up as a drink (see page 18), perhaps you’ll be able to scale up the gravity of that situation yourself. On Earth it involves the second coming. No, not that. Get your mind out of the gutter. Having set up an apocalyptic scenario, Ferrier takes the obvious cinematic route, and the Teddy who’s developed a conscience is nowhere near as much fun as the earlier scuzzbag. Don’t worry about that action thriller ending, though, because it’s largely irrelevant. The joy of Hot Damn is in the laugh out loud short sequences leading up to the end. Savour them for five chapters and accept the finale as given.