The comic book, not the poem. I read Dante's Inferno when I was 17 -- loved the allegories in the first canto, and the awesome frozen landscape at the very end. But there was too much of Dante settling old scores in the middle for me to get really interested. Also, Dante's hell was a bit too physical (or not psychological enough) for me to want to start getting lost in it. It was just a bit dull.

Now. I'm not gonna argue that Mike Carey and Michael Gaydos's creation kicks Dante's ass in the grand measurements of imaginative achievment. I am gonna say I enjoyed it a whole lot more.

I should qualify. I don't think Inferno is a particularly profound meditation on religion, identity, power, love, whatever. A lot of it is just amazing comics. Carey can do all that D&D talk very well -- enchanted armour, flying demons, scrying spells, crystal balls, decapitated talking heads, magic crossbows etc. etc. But he's inventive with it. There are loads of cool ideas in these five issues, making them a cut above most derivative dark fantasy D&D-type comics. And the names sound suitably weird without being ridiculous (no one seems to gets that right).

But let's talk a little bit more about Michael Gaydos. I know him from the wonderful scruffy, grimy, blotched, stained, smeared, souped noir he did for Bendis's Alias. But did you know he could also do Mike Mignola? Not a rip-off, you understand. Gaydos's fantasy looks slightly spikier, slightly punkier. His hell city is rough, claustrophobic, deformed, crazed, like taking Brian Wood's DMZ and turning it medieval. Feral. It reminded me of what Viriconium would look like. More comics need to remind me of Viriconium! Basically, what I am trying to say is that Michael Gaydos makes this book. Please, Mr. Carey, may we have some more?

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