Samhain Publishing, $4.50, ISBN 978-1-61923-177-1
Charlie Broadmoor fancies himself a stand-up comedian, but his audience tend to beg to differ. During one particularly bad night when nobody in the audience chuckles even a little, he tries to make fun of one patron’s particularly horrid comb-over, and… well, look at the title of this story. Charlie and everyone he cares about are going down… straight to Hell, muahahaha!
Amusingly enough, Charlie’s new enemy, the demon Kobal, is the patron of comedians.
Demon with a Comb-Over, like its protagonist, is not a laugh-a-minute love machine. It is, instead, a pretty sober horror tale at times, and, for better or worse, while reading it I find myself recalling Christopher Fowler’s Spanky for the first time in ages. Not that there is anything similar between the two aside from both stories having a down-on-his-luck protagonist pitted against a literally hellish creature, but this one reminds me of how much I liked Spanky, and how I’d like to read it again. Plus, the cover of Spanky features a hot guy in leather undies and high heels along with some wings – hot. Uh… where was I?
Oh yes, this one. I have no issues with this, but that could be because I can’t be arsed to search for any issues in the first place. I find myself curiously unmoved by Charlie’s predicament. A big reason would probably be the fact that he gets his happy ending of sorts here, but I never feel that he deserves it. He doesn’t really do anything that makes him a worthy opponent of Kobal, and yet, by the last page, the author has eliminated the few things that made Charlie’s life miserable. In other words, despite screwing up and being an inept comedian, he actually gets rewarded. Why? I don’t see why I should be happy for him, so the whole story leaves me cold.
Maybe if the author had actually made Charlie make a crack or two that makes me smile for once, or maybe if he had made Charlie a bit more sympathetic instead of just in loser mode 24/7, I may cheer for him to get a happy ending. As it is, Charlie just… staggers around and gets a happy ending that he has zero role in creating. Kobal isn’t an interesting villain – he just sneers and acts like some gormball without any sense of irony to make him memorable or palatable, and… well, I just don’t give a damn about both him and Charlie.
Oh, and if you are sensitive about men using slurs on women that denigrate their sexuality just because those women got the better of those men, be careful with this one. I don’t have an issue with it, in general, as it’s a case-by-case basis as far as I’m concerned, but in this case, it’s just another mark against Charlie. He’s been had and he still couldn’t stop being a douchebag about it. Oh well.
Maybe this story is best read by guys who feel that they too are Charlie Broadmoor, trapped in a world that seems to be against them, and they would love some vicarious loser-on-top fantasy to pick their moods up. Even then, won’t it be better if such fantasies have the loser protagonist play a more active role to enact that revenge fantasy? This one is just sort of being there, and Charlie is, at the end of the day, useless even by the loser standards.