Bobby's got a gun that he keeps beneath his pillow: Diana dismantles 8/18

David Lapham is either very clever or very confused. TERROR INC. #1 is the latest release for Marvel's MAX imprint. Like most MAX comics, what this actually means is that it's a standard Marvel story with copious amounts of awkward sex and violence attached in a very forced and artificial way (not unlike Justin Timberlake's faux-ghetto routine - he's from sodding Memphis, for God's sake, who does he think he's fooling?).

It's a bit backwards, isn't it? Rather than be branded "for mature readers" due to content, I get the feeling that this issue's content was determined with an eye towards justifying the brand. You have to wonder whether Lapham's first draft came back with "MORE BLOOD & BOOBIES" written all over it.

The last time I saw Terror, he stole Arana's severed arm and was trapped in a future nobody cared about. Lapham anticipates this problem and seems to start from scratch, spending most of his first issue introducing the protagonist. This is where I don't know whether he's being smart or scattered: Terror survives by stealing body parts and attaching them to himself, making him a sort of patchwork monster. And the story itself is a chimera as well: a bit of 300, a bit of MARVEL ZOMBIES, a bit of CONAN, a bit of... well, take your pick from the "mercenary tricked by government" sub-genre. Is Lapham just throwing stuff out there in a blind panic? Or was this a deliberate creative decision? It's hard to say for sure, because I've seen plenty of writers gleefully hurl the kitchen sink at their readers' heads in an attempt to engage them; then again, Lapham can be tricky when he needs to be.

Either way, I can't give it much more than an EH, because even if the structure was intentionally designed to mirror the main character, it didn't make for very interesting reading beyond "well, isn't that a cute idea." Part of the problem may be that, as a hybrid creature, TERROR INC. doesn't seem to offer anything you can't find elsewhere; the downside of incorporating so many different sub-genres is that none of them have much breathing room, and if zombies are your thing, you'd probably be more satisfied with something like THE WALKING DEAD or MARVEL ZOMBIES, simply because those books deal with the subject matter as a central theme.