Thrift Store Finds: Def Leppard #1 by Rock Fantasy Comics

OHHHHH DAMN.

Today we’re looking at Def Leppard #1, published by Rock Fantasy Comics in 1990. Cover price on this was $3 bucks; I got it for a quarter at Half-Price Books.

DLcover

A couple of things before we dig in. I am not a fan of this band. I am sure there are legions of fans who worship Def Leppard’s feet at the but, if I’m being honest with you, I’ve always viewed DL as something of a joke. The “glam rock” era of music offered many bands worth of derision; I lump Def Leppard in with those groups in my mind. Before I started writing this, the only song I could identify with confidence as a Def Leppard song is “Pour Some Sugar On Me”.

I also know nothing about Rock Fantasy Comics, an outfit that published many comic books centering on famous rock musicians. If this book is indicative of the type of work the company regularly published, there’s a reason I’ve never heard of Rock Fantasy Comics before this week. In the introduction to Def Leppard, publisher Michael Valentine Smith explains the reasoning behind this comic, saying:

Rock has often taken the attributes of Science Fiction or Fantasy to fire the imagination of its’ audience. We thought it might be fun to turn the tables and combine Rock and Roll with Fantasy/Science Fiction for the printed page. So we’ve created an imaginary universe and peopled it with characters in the guise of some of our favorite Rock Stars. We make no claims of accuracy, since the stories are “Work of Fiction”.

I had to clean that up a bit; Smith might be a titan in the rock ‘n roll comic publishing industry, but his grammar and usage is pretty atrocious throughout this comic.

“Atrocious” is probably a good place to start concerning the content of this book; it’s an anthology of four stories featuring Def Leppard. Anthologies can often prove to be a mixed bag, with some good stories and some bad ones. This is NOT a mixed bag. All the stories are uniformly bad.

The first tale, Sellv Defense, is probably the best of the bunch… or rather, “best” is not the right word. I would say it’s the most competent story, which isn’t saying much.

DL1

Ok, so for reasons entirely unexplained, the members of Def Leppard are transported from their concert on Earth to an organic space ship and… well, check this out:

DL2Def Leppard have become some kind of advanced soldiers/superheroes with this armor that looks like a bunch of mushrooms have grown all over them. Gotcha A big fight scene ensues although I’m not really sure what’s going on. It has something to do with a pregnant alien. No, I’m not making that up.

DL3

How unintentionally hilarious is that panel? In the end, DL save the Earth… or the space ship… or something, I couldn’t really follow the story. It ends with this amazing panel though.

DL4

The next story, A Night to Remember, features DL fighting a bunch of zombies.

DL5

…and it ends with the realization that the whole story was nothing but a dream! How original!

Oh man though. If you thought those two stories were good, you haven’t seen anything yet because you haven’t seen Love Bites: An Experiment in Terror! LOOK AT THE FIRST PAGE.

DL6

It looks like something I would have drawn in 9th grade visual arts.

DL7

So these two nameless girls go backstage to party with DL. As I’m sure most glam rock bands do, Def Leppard collectively pass out halfway through the festivities.

DL8

And… Oh wait, did the writer forget to mention these girls were vampires? Well they are.

DL9

Oh, and did the writer fail to mention that the members of Def Leppard are werewolves whose lycanthropy is triggered by having conveniently locatable buckets full of sugar thrown on them?

DL10

Oh, and in case you were worried…

DL11

It was all a dream. How original.

A good rule of thumb – if you’re reading a comic anthology and more than one story ends with “it was all a dream!” – that comic anthology probably sucks.

The other two stories aren’t “funny bad” like the first two… they’re just bad. I didn’t want to waste time scanning them. Usually I use these weekly posts to either shed light on some unknown pop culture jems or luxuriate in nostalgia. I can do neither of those things here. This is, without hyperbole, the worst comic I’ve ever seen.

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