Hot Damn #1 Review


A review of the opening issue of Hot Damn, a series by Ryan Ferrier and Valentin Ramon.

Hot Damn #1

Story by: Ryan Ferrier / Illustrated by:  Valentin Ramon

“Read the sign. Welcome to Hell. Sure, it looks nothing like what you’ve been led to believe. That first part, with the flames? Yeah, that’s just, like, the subway.”

Throughout the ages, literature and cinema have presented us with many depictions of Hell. Dante gave us The Inferno; Milton gave us Paradise Lost; McFarlane gave us Spawn; Bill and Ted took us on a Bogus Journey.

More from Comics

Each is unique in its own way (especially that last one), but they—along with the majority of Hell’s other portrayals—generally have a commonality in their presentation: the torture and evil of perdition is overt. It is directed, purposeful, and focused. Not so in the case of Hot Damn. In fact, just the opposite: hell is mind-numbingly, painfully mundane (but still dreadful and terrible to behold).

And therein lies the beauty of Ferrier and Ramon’s take on damnation. The first thing that jumps out at you when reading the inaugural issue of Hot Damn is that their Hell is strikingly similar to the world we live in now. It is filled with daily, soul-sapping drudgery, obnoxious characters that are tiresome to deal with, repulsive fast food on every corner, and bureaucracy governing almost every conceivable facet.

Like I said: similar to the world we live in now, right? But in Hell, those things—and all of the other things that humanity has come to despise and regret—aren’t just annoyances littering the corners of an otherwise pleasurable life … they are life. For the damned, there is no escape, no reprieve, and no absolution from the worst parts of the daily grind.

Enter Hot Damn’s protagonist, Teddy Graham (yes, like the cookie). He is—or was, rather—an entitled, self-centered drug addict who spent his time and his substantial inheritance living a lifestyle of debauchery and indulgence.

When he meets his untimely death at the hands of an overdose, he realizes post-mortem that, “‘all we are, isn’t really all we are,” but, alas, it is of course too late. Teddy has quickly found himself a denizen of Hades, and although he is still entitled, self-centered, debauched, and indulgent, he is now subjected to the endless cycle of therapy sessions that is Hot Damn’s Hell.

Naturally, these “therapy sessions” have no end and no real therapeutic result; they exist solely to force Teddy and those like him to come to terms with their decisions and realize that they truly deserve to be in Hell. Only then can true suffering begin.

There is more to Hot Damn than just Teddy’s suffering, though. God and Satan (presented as mutually-beneficial businessmen who “had their thing back in their frat boy days,” but are “pals now”) also make an appearance. Their presence widens the scope and the direction of the book, and the interaction between Heaven and Hell is definitely meant to be a commentary on popular conceptions of religion.

Ferrier and Ramon are going out of their way to turn your preconceived notions about the afterlife on their head, and that will definitely be a focal point of the overarching narrative and theme going forward. Hot Damn #1 may revolve around Teddy’s personal journey, but much like The Inferno, Paradise Lost, Spawn, and Bill and Ted before him, Teddy’s trip to Hell is only the vehicle for a saga that has much more in store for the reader than just fire and brimstone can provide.

While a quick glimpse of Hot Damn #1 might give a casual reader the first impression of a stereotypical stoner buddy comedy or a poorly thought out critique of religion (though it is both of those things … just not necessarily stereotypical or poorly thought out), there is more at work in Ferrier and Ramon’s take on the afterlife. Teddy’s journey through the hereafter seems to be building up to something more grandiose.

Though the groundwork might have been laid a little less definitively than some might like, and the negative depiction of God might be a bit cliché (in spirit, not necessarily in the details), tackling such weighty concepts as Heaven and Hell is a lofty, ambitious goal that has been more poorly adapted by more accomplished artists. All-in-all, I like the direction that Hot Damn is headed, and time will tell if Teddy truly has to abandon all hope.