Alice Cooper explores the unlikely theme of spirituality in his comic book packaged with an underrated album from 1994 entitled Last Temptation. He seems to be saying one needs to take accountability for one’s actions and there can be consequences. He takes you on a trip through a warped carnival that leads to the main character’s ultimate decision.
This album, released almost twenty years ago, was turned into a comic book of the same name with a story direction under the guidance of comic book legend Neil Gammon. They will reissue the limited comic book series in 2014.
Dynamite comics is planning an Alice series as well. Alice is not new to the comic book world, starring in Marvel Premiere #50 called From The Inside, which is also another title of an album. Both are based on Alice’s real trip into an insane asylum.
Alice Cooper seems to have always excelled at concept albums and this comic book is a clever tribute to Something Wicked This Way Comes. The main character, a young boy named Steven, ends up in a demented carnival where the host of the comic, Alice himself, shows him different slices of life. Will Steven end up as a casualty, or will he break free from the temptations of society?
In the comic, Alice is the tour guide — taunting little Steven and showing him the choice he must make.
Some of the songs, such as “Nothing’s Free”, explore the price people sometimes pay with their lives. In the beginning of the song, he seems say a deal has been made, and that choice can have a dire end result. He brutally adds towards the end ,”…When you finally burn in the fire.” He then concludes with “The price has been paid in full.” Little Steven listens, ready to hear the message.
For the song, “Bad Place Alone”, the lyrics are printed in the comic book as the main character decides to visit a house. It talks about a couple of gang members and asks the question “Can someone who committed a heinous act find redemption after a life of chaos?” In the comic, it is a bum that looks like a menacing skeletal zombie, sing-speaking “Bad Place Alone”. Alice sings “Hey Blood brother!” as if he is trying to help his friend realize that he is on a dangerous path. There is blood on his hands that cannot be easily cleansed. Two important characters Smoky Joe and Lil’ Cesar learn the hard way that their life of crime leads to them down a one way street to a literal and figurative Hell. Steven has some friends who taunt and try to convince him to break into the house… But Steven’s blood brothers are nowhere to be found as he enters.
The second book is entitled Unholy War. The book is about the unholy war within one’s self, as well as the struggle on the outside world. One of the album’s best titled songs is “Cleansed By Fire.” This song continues the theme of a choice between redemption and condemnation. The theme in the comic book explores the same general theme as Steven’s redemptive opportunities are offered. Alice discusses deep themes in this song such as life, death, truth, and fate. “Cleansed by Fire” is also the final book in the trilogy.
For those who are not into spiritual philosophy, the album is as hard rocking as any other. The comic directly reflects the link between the visual medium Cooper has always had in his stage shows, and while listening to the record, Alice’s trademark sinister vocals are there to boot. The album can be viewed as pure storybook entertainment, or something much deeper. Together with the comic book, the effect is more striking.
It is an interesting concept that has people hooked, especially when the messages are backed with guitar, bass, and drums. Put together in book form with illustrations, the message is made even clearer.
Let’s hope twenty years later, this comic book/album will get its just due.