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Elvira: Mistress Of The Dark Volume 2 (Dynamite Entertainment) Comic Review

    Ian Jane

  • Elvira: Mistress Of The Dark Volume 2 (Dynamite Entertainment) Comic Review

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    Released by: Dynamite Entertainment
    Released on: October 14th, 2020.
    Written by: David Avallone
    Illustrated by: Dave Acosta
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    Not caught up? Then you need to pick up volume 1 (which collects the first four issues of this series from writer David Avallone and artist Dave Acosta! For those not hip to these haunted happenings, Doctor Johannes Faust has sent our favorite buxom “hostess with the mostess” travelling through time where she's had a standoff with none other than Vlad Tepes where she ran into a whole lot of different people from various periods in horror history. But when Faust was unable to send her back to her home time? Well, Mephistopheles himself showed up and Elvira found herself in the Hollywood of 1935 and then….

    …when the fifth issue starts (which is where this latest collection starts), Elvira is caught in the middle of a squabble between Faust and his missus, who is none too pleased that her beau took off only to return with Elvira in tow. This woman, referred to as 'the face that launched a thousand ships' (meaning she's likely Helen of Troy) isn't happy about any of this. Elvira, not wanting in on that drama, opens the door to split but upon doing so realizes that Faust's deal has resulted in the three of them being located where his deal is to end. And thus beings Elvira's Inferno: Canto One!

    Elvira and Helen figure they didn't make the deal Faust did and therefore shouldn't be liable for whatever his end of the bargain requires of him, but it doesn't work that way. Faust notes that this is Mephistopheles' error, not his, but when the devil himself shows up all involved realize there's more to this. Helen becomes irate when the bar disappears but Elvira asks Mephistopheles to send her home. Helen and Faust squawk, and are then sent off to… somewhere while Elvira and Mephistopheles walk and talk. He tells her she needs to speak to Lucifer himself, she makes a timely and clever Weinstein joke, and he's impressed with her bravery, which results in some funny dialogue and clever jokes we won't spoil here.

    As she walks through Hell she meets up with Poe again, who explains Dante's design theory to her while she, again, makes some great jokes (this time relating to Clive Barker!) and he quips about dying at forty. He sends her to the ferryman and then, well, no spoilers, just well-played George Romero jokes.

    When the sixth issue begins, Elvira stands before Minos, the Judge Of All Mankind (half man, half serpent!), who has little patience for Elvira's sense of humor and penchant for snappy banter. Regardless, he gives her what she wants, and soon enough she's sent down to the next circle of Hell where a man with a whip and a clipboard efficiently punishes the sinners in his charge. She asks for directions down, makes the obligatory sex joke (that we all saw coming and laughed at any way), but it turns out demons don't give the best directions. Regardless, Elvira figures if she can plead her case to ol' scratch he'll realize a mistake has been made and send her back to the land of the living. And so she soldiers on, coming across Cerberus, the three-headed guard of Hades, talks to a guy named Glenn (who doesn't give a last name but my money's on Milstead) who introduces her to Sisyphus, breaks the fourth wall with a dig at the writer over a gratuitous Albert Camus joke and eventually winds up in… a mall? Yep, a mall. Sounds like Hell to me. And it comes complete with a broken escalator.

    The minotaur, who assumes Elvira is a gift to him, warns Glenn and Elvira that no one shall pass and they shall, instead, suffer for eternity in the 'traffic jam of the damned.' Elvira, being from L.A., understands, and the fact that these damned souls are all staring at their cell phones only serves to make things worse.

    When the minotaur gets distracted by an angry geek, Elvira and Glenn hop in a car and escape off the freeway only to get chased by weird centaur biker cop things wielding swords. When the cops are defeated they don't seem to care, knowing full well that Dis will handle things from here on out. Our pair make their way past the demon guards, Obi Wan style, and through the gates into the city of Dis. After a kindly and very familiar looking Civil War general gives them a parking tip, they ditch the car and wind up in a cubical farm where, without spoiling things, the script gets subtly political and makes some well-aimed jabs at those who are content to do nothing. After that, well, there are a few more miles of Hell to contend with on their way to level nine...

    Elvira and Glenn stand face to hoof with Lucifer himself, a massive, cloven-hoofed beast that feasts on the damned and seems kind of… bored. Elvira calls to him, hoping to plead her case and make her escape, at which point the devil takes on the form of Elvira's high school gym teacher, Mr. Emery. Why? Because the devil knows she hates him and the devil thinks it's funny. He isn't wrong. I hated my high school gym teacher too. And my middle school gym teacher. Anyway, Lucifer, who refers to himself in the third person, allows Elvira to plead her case, and as the inferno turns into a court room, she does just that.

    Lucifer wants to learn how and why Elvira came to be standing as close to Faust as she was when Mephistopheles came to collect, and so, by the powers of evil, we zip over to a theater where the devil asks Faust himself and we learn of how he placed 'an actual monster, a creature of horror' into Elvira's 21st century timeline. Elvira and Faust bicker about the details of the 'time coffin' - which somehow (it's complicated but it makes perfect sense when you read it) leads into the big finish of this particular storyline.

    Rolling Stones references, jokes about those Rolling Stones references, philosophizing about the merits of horror, Doctor Who and Twilight Zone gags, Cecil B. Demille references, an Evil Dead quote, Glenn's true identity finally revealed (it was a poorly kept secret, but still neat to see!), an Ed Wood zinger and a Mary Poppins dig? Writer David Avallone continues to do a very fine job of layering things into what is, on the surface level at least, a goofy story - but scratch a little deeper and you realize that this is pretty clever stuff. The pop culture references are sometimes blatant (to the point of being called out by Elvira herself) and sometimes more subtle but they make the book more fun. The elements of 'higher culture' woven into the tale blend surprisingly well with the more lowbrow material - you'd think there would be a culture clash here of sorts, but nope, it's surprisingly balanced in that regard.

    Dave Acosta's artwork has been the perfect complement to Avallone's storytelling since the first issue and, thankfully, that hasn't changed with this eighth installment. He nails the likenesses of Peterson and Divine but also does a great job with the layouts, particularly in the opening and closing scenes of this issue. There are lots of neat little bits and bobs in the background to keep your eyes busy, and the guy shows a real knack for drawing monsters - which is never a bad thing. The coloring work from Walter Pereya is rock solid, and even the lettering from Taylor Esposito is strong. This team consistently puts out a quality funny book.

    This storyline has been a blast and leaves us wanting to see what the 'Elvira Daves' are going to come up with for the next arc (those of us who read the single issues already know the answer to that!). This trade paperback edition from Dynamite reprints issues 5 through 8 in their entirety as well as all of the covers, variants and standards both, alongside a new afterword by Avallone.
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